Morales leaves for Mexico as Bolivia military pledges to tackle violence

Update: November, 12/2019 - 11:22


Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned on Sunday, a day after this pictured address. . — AFP Photo

LA PAZ — Evo Morales left Bolivia on Monday for Mexico, which has granted him political asylum, as the armed forces agreed to help police curb violence that has erupted after the president's stunning resignation left a power vacuum.

The senator set to succeed Morales as interim president, Jeanine Anez, pledged to call fresh elections to end the political crisis.

The United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) earlier voiced fears of a breakdown in security in a country that appeared increasingly rudderless after dozens of officials and ministers resigned along with Morales, some seeking refuge in foreign embassies.

Morales called Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Monday to request asylum and later tweeted that he was "heading to Mexico".

Ebrard confirmed Morales had been granted asylum and late on Monday wrote on Twitter that a Mexican military plane carrying the former president had "already taken off ... with Morales aboard."

"According to international conventions, he's under Mexico's protection. His life and integrity have been saved," Ebrard said.

Morales thanked Mexico for protecting him and vowed to come back to his country "stronger and more energetically".

The dramatic events came a day after Morales's shock resignation after he lost the backing of the military following three weeks of street protests over his disputed re-election for an unconstitutional fourth term.

"The military command of the armed forces has arranged for joint operations with the police to prevent bloodshed and fighting amongst the Bolivian family," said General Williams Kaliman in a televised address.

Three people have died in clashes since the disputed election.

Earlier, La Paz police chief Jose Barrenechea called on Kaliman to "intervene, because the Bolivian police have been overrun". Some small police barracks around the country were torched or looted on Monday.

"We are going to call elections," Anez told reporters in La Paz, the seat of government, saying that there will be "an electoral process that reflects the will of all Bolivians". — AFP