Morales leaves for Mexico

Source:AFP Published: 2019/11/12 21:58:40

Bolivia military pledges to tackle violence

Police officers take part in a march to protest against Bolivian President Evo Morales with a sign reading "Bolivians more united than ever" in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Bolivia's Evo Morales departed Monday for exile in Mexico, leaving behind a country in turmoil after his abrupt resignation as president.

As the nation suddenly found itself without a leader, the military agreed to help police take back streets lost to violence from disgruntled supporters of Bolivia's first indigenous president.

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

Bolivia appeared increasingly rudderless after dozens of officials and ministers resigned along with Morales, some seeking refuge in foreign embassies.

Morales left the country on a military plane sent for him by Mexico, which granted him political asylum for his safety. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed Morales was on the plane.

"It pains me to leave the country for political reasons, but I will always be watching. I will be back soon with more strength and energy," Morales tweeted.

The crisis touched off by his resignation on Sunday - after three weeks of protests over his disputed reelection - deepened Monday as gangs unhappy with his departure attacked police stations and civilians, triggering panic in the streets.

Three people have died in clashes since the disputed election.

Morales claimed on Twitter late Monday that two of his homes had been attacked by "vandalism groups."

Opposition leader Carlos Mesa claimed on Twitter that "a violent mob" was heading for his home to attack it.

Several of Morales' ministers and top officials resigned after his announcement - including many who sought refuge at 

the Mexican Embassy - raising the question of who was in charge, given that vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera had also quit.

Under the constitution, power then passes to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the lower house of Congress, in that order. But they have resigned too.

Anez stepped in on Sunday to say she would assume the presidency, given her position as deputy Senate leader. 

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