Calls for calm as Bolivian police and protesters clash in wake of Evo Morales' resignation

Calls for calm as Bolivian police and protesters clash in wake of Evo Morales' resignationThe expected interim president of Bolivia on Monday made an emotional call for an end to violence gripping the capital, as confrontations between police and groups loyal to outgoing president Evo Morales continued to flare up. Following attacks on the properties of prominent anti-Morales figures over the weekend, Monday saw further violent confrontations between protest groups linked to Mr Morales’ MAS party and the police, amid accusations that Mr Morales had been forced out in a coup.  While the United States has expressed support for Mr Morales' resignation, which he announced on Sunday, Venezuela has joined with some of his Leftist allies decrying the turn of events as a "coup." In La Paz, 64 buses were burned, the cable car system was suspended and there were reports of widespread looting. Speaking on the steps of the Legislative Assembly, a tearful Jeanine Añez promised to oversee a peaceful handover of power by 22 January. People celebrating Bolivian President Evo Morales' resignation, in Buenos Aires Credit: JOSE LUIS PERRINO/AFP "We are going to call elections," Ms Añez told reporters in La Paz, saying that there will be "an electoral process that reflects the wants of all Bolivians." On Saturday a preliminary report from the Organization of American States said that the 20 October elections, in which Mr Morales had won a first round victory by the slimmest of margins, had been subject of “clear manipulation” and called for a new round of voting. Mr Morales accepted this demand but in the wake of two weeks of increasingly violent protests across the country, it was too little too late.  With the country’s police force in a state of mutiny, the trade union federation – traditionally loyal to Mr Morales – and then the armed forces called for his resignation, “for the good of Bolivia”. On Sunday night Mr Morales went on television to resign, saying that “dark forces have destroyed democracy.” Senate second Vice President Jeanine Anez pleaded for calm Credit: AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko Dominic Raab, the British Foreign Secretary, registered his scorn as Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his support for Mr Morales, claiming the Labour leader put Marxist ideology ahead of democracy.  Mr Corbyn wrote: "I condemn the coup against the Bolivian people and stand with them for democracy, social justice and independence.” The Foreign Secretary replied: “Unbelievable. The Organisation of American States refused to certify the Bolivian election because of systemic flaws. The people are protesting and striking on an unprecedented scale. But Jeremy Corbyn puts Marxist solidarity ahead of democracy.”   The exact whereabouts of Mr Morales are unknown, but he is believed to be in Chapare, the central region where he rose to prominence as a firebrand trade unionist for coca growers in the 1980s. Late Sunday, Mr Morales went on Twitter to claim authorities were seeking to arrest him. Some areas were blocked in the capital, La Paz, as police struggled to take control of the streets from protesters Credit:  Martin Alipaz/EPA-EFE/REX "I report to the world and Bolivian people that a police officer publicly announced that he has instructions to execute an unlawful apprehension order against me; in addition, violent groups also stormed my home," Mr Morales said. Armed intruders did break into Mr Morales' home in Cochabamba, but the police denied any arrest order had been issued. Following Mr Morales’ resignation the vice-president and the president of the senate also resigned, leaving opposition senator Ms Añez as the likely interim president to be voted in when congress eventually returns to session. New elections are expected to be called within 90 days, with Mr Morales excluded from running.   Carlos Mesa, the runner up in October’s elections, took to Twitter to deny that a coup had taken place, saying that it was an “authentic, democratic Bolivian Spring” and to call for calm in the run-up to new elections.



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