Wednesday, April 17, 2024

LATIN AMERICA | 26-10-2020 17:25

Evo Morales says his return to Bolivia doesn't depend on him

Former Bolivia president admitted on Monday that his return to his homeland is out of his hands, as a judge lifted a preventative detention order against him over alleged "terrorism."

Exiled former Bollivia president Evo Morales admitted on Monday that his return to his homeland is out of his hands, as a judge lifted a preventative detention order against him over alleged "terrorism."

It comes just over a week after his successor as the leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, Luis Arce, romped to a landslide presidential election victory.

Morales has spent almost a year in exile after resigning as president and fleeing the country following three weeks of protests that met his controversial reelection last year, which was marred by accusations of fraud.

Despite Arce's victory in the October 18 poll, Morales says others will decide whether or not he returns from Argentina.

"The social movements are still debating. They're the ones that will decide," Morales told AFP.

One potential obstacle to Morales's return was removed when a judge lifted the detention order.

During his exile he was twice investigated for terrorism but judge Jorge Quino said on Monday "his rights were violated. Basically his right to a defence, given that he wasn't duly summoned."

The first terrorism accusation against him came in December as his supporters clashed with security forces following his exile. A second such accusation was lodged in July.

The 61-year-old former union leader dismissed the accusations as "a dirty war" waged against him by his political opponents.

During his exile, Morales was active on social media accusing his political opponents of a coup while rallying his supporters to demonstrate.

He faced numerous accusations during the year-long interim government of conservative former senator Jeanine Áñez but no progression has been made in any investigation.

Morales has also been accused of "rape and trafficking" over alleged relationships with underage girls, including that he fathered a child with one.

He ruled out a return to government under Arce but said he would dedicate himself to union activism and fish farming, adding that it was the National Confederation of Peasant Workers of Bolivia that would decide when he returns.

"It's not been decided yet," he said.

Many MAS supporters have called on Morales to come home for Arce's inauguration – for which no date has yet been set, although it should be in the first half of November.

Others, though, believe his presence would overshadow Arce's moment. The 57-year-old served as finance and economy minister under Morales.

Civil unrest broke out last year when Morales was re-elected to a fourth consecutive term, despite the country's constitution limiting a president to just two.

On top of that, an audit by the Organisation of American States found clear evidence of election fraud, which led to the military withdrawing its backing of Morales.

He subsequently left for Mexico and then Argentina while Áñez assumed the presidency.


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