Bolivian President Resigns Amid Claims of Election Fraud

Bolivian President Resigns Amid Claims of Election Fraud

Andrew Gilkey, World News Editor

“The President of Mexico saved my life,” Evo Morales said in a press conference shortly after being greeted by Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard on the runway of Mexico City International Airport. Though this time, Morales was greeted not as the first indigenous president of Bolivia, a stabilizing force in the region or as the leader that lifted Bolivia to new economic heights. He was met by Ebard as an exile.

Citizens of La Paz, the Bolivian capital, protested en masse for weeks following an election in which Morales crowned himself winner. Political opponents and protesters alike claimed that Morales’ government tampered with the election. 

Morales’ government allowed the Organization of American States to conduct a binding audit of the election. The OAS concluded that the election had been tampered with and further protests erupted, this time far more violently. According to The New York Times, opponents and supporters of Morales joined together to protest the current government. Several police precincts joined the protests as well. 

An unidentified female Bolivian officer said in a televised address, “Our duty will always be the defense of the people. The police are with the people!” Morales’s grip on Bolivia failed once the head of the military, Gen. Williams Kailman, stated he would not support Morales.

Distrust of Morales began in 2016 when he proposed a referendum to extend the presidential term limit despite what the 2009 constitution, one that he championed, states. Almost unanimously, the idea was struck down. Morales conceded defeat initially but soon employed his loyalists in the constitutional court to rule that term limits violate Morales’ human rights. Morales would go on to win his third election. 

On Nov. 10, Morales announced his resignation, handing over governmental power to Kailman to restore “peace and stability and for the good of our Bolivia.” A plane would bring Morales, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and other essential aides to a safe location in the Bolivian countryside before leaving for Mexico due to an alleged fear for his own life and the lives of his staff.

With the military taking over governmental responsibilities, many have criticized the transition, calling it a military coup. Though the revolt started with citizens, the military’s acquisition of power blurs the line between revolution and a budding dictatorship.