Bolivia crisis: Clashes as Morales supporters oppose interim rule

Clashes have again broken out in Bolivia as supporters of former President Evo Morales oppose the rule of the new interim leader.

Opposition senator Jeanine Áñez assumed the presidency amid a power vacuum and has vowed to hold elections soon.

Supporters of Mr Morales clashed with riot police, while lawmakers loyal to him sought to challenge the legitimacy of Ms Áñez's appointment.

Mr Morales resigned on Sunday and has since fled to Mexico.

His resignation followed weeks of protests over a disputed presidential election result. He said he was forced to stand down but did so willingly "so there would be no more bloodshed".

Ms Áñez's appointment as interim leader has been endorsed by Bolivia's Constitutional Court.

What happened in the clashes?

Riot police fired tear gas during clashes on Wednesday with supporters of Mr Morales, who marched towards the presidential palace in La Paz to protest against Ms Áñez's appointment.

Some demonstrators used wooden planks and sheets of metal as weapons.

There were chants of "Now, civil war", the Associated Press reports.

Protests were also reported elsewhere, including in La Paz's sister city of El Alto and the coca-growing region of El Chapare.

The latest demonstrations came as lawmakers loyal to Mr Morales sought to challenge Ms Áñez's legitimacy.

They boycotted the session of congress called to formalise her claim to the presidency, preventing a quorum.

They have since been trying to hold new counter sessions.

Police reportedly blocked some lawmakers allied with Mr Morales from entering the country's parliamentary assembly on Wednesday.

How did Jeanine Áñez become leader?

Ms Áñez, 52, is a qualified lawyer and a fierce critic of Mr Morales. She was previously director of the Totalvision TV station, and has been a senator since 2010, representing the region of Beni in the National Assembly.

As the deputy Senate leader, Ms Áñez took temporary control of the body on Tuesday after Bolivia's vice-president and the leaders of the senate and lower house resigned.

That put her next in line for the presidency under the constitution.

Ms Áñez said again on Wednesday that she wanted to hold elections as soon as possible and denied that a coup had taken place against Mr Morales.

She also swore in new commanders-in-chief in all branches of the military.

The US recognised her as the leader, saying it looked forward to working with Bolivia's interim administration.

Skip Twitter post by @WHAAsstSecty

Acting Senate President Añez has assumed responsibilities of Interim Constitutional President of #Bolivia. We look forward to working with her & Bolivias other civilian authorities as they arrange free & fair elections as soon as possible, in accordance w/ Bolivias constitution

— Michael G. Kozak (@WHAAsstSecty) November 13, 2019

End of Twitter post by @WHAAsstSecty

Brazil, one of Bolivia's top trading partners, also congratulated her on her "constitutional" assumption of the presidency

Mr Morales has branded Ms Áñez "a coup-mongering right-wing senator" and condemned the US recognition of her interim rule.

In the country, reaction to Ms Áñez's assumption of power has been mixed.

"We don't want any dictators. This lady has stepped on us – that's why we're so mad," one protester told the Associated Press news agency.

Others hoped her interim role would bring stability to the country after weeks of unrest.

"It seems she is going to act in a fair way and will get us out of this mess," one person in La Paz told Reuters.

How did we get here?

Mr Morales, a former coca farmer, was first elected in 2005 and took office in 2006, the country's first leader from the indigenRead More – Source

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