Following the forced resignation of President Evo Morales in Bolivia, Senator and opposition politician Jeanine Añez has declared herself the country's transitional president. "I will take all the necessary measures to endorse the country," the 52-year-old Social Democrat said when she took control on Tuesday night. Earlier, two attempts by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies failed to establish a quorum as not enough parliamentarians were present.
The lawyer sits since 2010 for the Department Beni in the Senate. Because, in addition to Morales, any other state representative eligible under the Constitution had resigned - the Vice President, the President of the Senate, and the President of the Chamber of Deputies - the Senate's second vice-president moved to the top of the government.
Teargas against Morales protesters
According to their statement, in which no members of Morales' Movimiento al Socialismo were present, protests broke out in the capital La Paz and its sister city El Alto. Morales supporters tried to reach the congress building and demanded Añez's resignation. The police and soldiers used tear gas to drive the crowd apart.
After massive protests and pressure from the military, Morales resigned only three weeks after his re-election on Sunday. The Socialist declared himself the winner in the first round after the vote on 20 October, although the opposition and international observers had reported considerable doubts and accused him of electoral fraud. He then went into exile.
Background of the state crisis in Bolivia is the presidential election on 20 October, in which Morales had declared the winner. His opponents, however, criticized irregularities. A testing commission of the Organization of American States finally agreed with them and called for a new election. Morales initially agreed, but eventually resigned on Sunday after military chief William Kaliman asked him to. He fled exile to Mexico. In his homeland he left behind a power vacuum.
Protests in Bolivia - Evo Morales receives asylum Bolivia's ex-president has fled to Mexico into exile. After his resignation, there were violent conflicts and protests. © Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty Images
As a farewell Morales parted against his political opponents. His resignation stood for a return to the grim era of coups that would have brought Latin American forces that dominated the region for a long time. "I'm anxious to leave the country for political reasons, but I'll be worried," he tweeted on his way to Mexico. He also announced that he would return to Bolivia "soon with more strength and energy".
Morales' supporters are already demanding his return. They spoke of a coup, as well as discrimination against Bolivia's indigenous communities. "Evo was like a father to me, we had a voice, we had rights," said 35-year-old Maria Apasa, who sounds like Morales to the Aymara indigenous group. According to media reports, some of his followers looted shops and put out fires. In some neighborhoods, the residents erected barricades to protect themselves against looters. At least 20 people were injured in the riots.
Morales was Bolivia's first indigenous president
As the first indigenous president, Morales had brought the poorhouse of South America a long period of political stability and economic development. In his almost 14 years at the head of the government, he ensured that the rich profits from the gas and lithium production remained largely in the country and also benefited the indigenous population majority.
To fulfill his dream and remain in office until the bicentennial celebration of independence in 2025, the former coca farmer, lama shepherd and union leader spanned the gap. In October, he stood for re-election for the third time, although the constitution provides for re-election at most. Morales overcame this hurdle with the help of his judicial system, which described the limitation of terms as a violation of his human rights.
Añez must organize new elections within 90 days
The task of the transitional president is to lead the country while preparing for new elections within 90 days. Añez needs the support of MEPs in the Senate - guarantees that they will get this even in the Morales supporters congress, there is not. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the second woman serving as interim President of Bolivia. Lidia Gueiler had previously held this role in 1979/1980.
Añez was a lawyer before she turned to politics. It is committed against gender-based violence. She has also worked as a television presenter and has been the director of the Total Visión station in the city of Trinidad, in the Amazon region of Beni. She belongs to the hitherto oppositional Social Democratic party Movimiento Demócrata Social. In 2006, she was called to a meeting to reform the Bolivian constitution.