Monday, March 20, 2023

LATIN AMERICA | 19-02-2020 14:50

Bolivia's electoral tribunal denies barring Morales

The MAS leader has been exiled in Argentina since December, where he has been planning his return to political life.

Bolivia's electoral tribunal on Wednesday denied press reports that it has disqualified former president Evo Morales from standing as a Senate candidate in May's general election.

"No decision has yet been made about any candidacy. All candidacies are being analyzed and reviewed," said tribunal head Salvador Romero.

Those of Morales, former foreign minister Diego Pary, who is also running for a Senate seat, and Morales' Movement for Socialism presidential nominee Luis Arce are being scrutinized by the tribunal.

Following their initial submissions, the tribunal told the candidates last week that they were missing some necessary documentation and gave them two days to supply it.

It has now been a week since that deadline passed, with still no decision taken.

Opponents of Morales have stepped up pressure to have him barred from standing.

A regional interest group in Santa Cruz, Bolivia's commercial hub, protested outside the local election tribunal on Wednesday, demanding Morales be disqualified.

The Pro Santa Cruz Committee, which held huge anti-Morales rallies between October's disputed election and his resignation on November 10, also called on authorities to seize the 60-year-old former trade union leader's assets.

Some politicians have argued that the constitution bars legislative candidates who have not been resident in the country for at least two years prior to an election.

Morales fled to Mexico the day of his resignation. This followed three weeks of at times violent protests against his re-election to a fourth successive term in a poll the Organization of American States said was rigged.

Now living in Argentina, where he accepted political asylum, Morales has vowed to return to Bolivia to run MAS's election campaign.

But he faces arrest if he does after the interim government accused him of sedition and terrorism over a telephone recording in which he allegedly urges his supporters to lay siege to major cities such as La Paz.

In the latest opinion polls, the MAS presidential candidate Arce was leading with 31.6 percent ahead of centrist former president Carlos Mesa (17.1) and conservative interim President Jeanine Anez (16.5).

In fourth place was right-wing candidate Luis Fernando Camacho, a major figure in the Pro Santa Cruz Committee, who on Tuesday called on his fellow centrist and right-wing rivals to join forces behind a single candidate in a bid to defeat Arce in May.



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