Evo Morales’ Resignation: Victim Of A Military Coup Or Culprit In Election By Unconstitutional Means?

A series of events in the last three days have escalated into not only the resignation of Evo Morales as the Plurinational State of Bolivia’s President but also an arrest warrant for the ex-president. Camila Escalante, a journalist with Telesur issued several tweets, alluding to cases of violence, kidnapping, and arson leveled at the ex-president and his allies, including the alleged torching of Morales’ home.

As reported by Telesur on 10th November, amidst earlier violence and pressure, Morales summoned new general elections to be held on Sunday 10th November and promised to renew all members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. However, the ongoing escalation of violence could not afford Morales even this time, as he announced in a televised address later on Sunday afternoon that he would formally resign as president to ease tensions in the country. On the same day, it was announced that police and military were on the hunt for Morales, and had hidden the presidential plane in efforts to prevent the ex-president’s departure from the country. Morales has since sought asylum in Mexico.

Morales announced his resignation in a television address on Sunday afternoon. “To my Bolivian brothers and sisters, to the whole world. I want to inform you, alongside the vice president and the minister of health, that I have decided, after listening to my friends at Conalcam and the Bolivian Workers’ Center, also listening to the Catholic church, to resign my position as president”.

Mixed reactions have come to light, with supporters of Morales claiming he is the victim of a military coup, while the opposition accuses Morales of participating in electoral fraud, and securing his fourth presidency through unconstitutional means.

Instrumental in the president’s resignation were Carlos Mesa, leader of the Revolutionary Leftist Front Party and Morales’ main opposition in the October elections, and Luis Fernando, the president of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee who called for Morales’ resignation on 2nd November.

Luis Fernando tweeted on 11th November, “Evo Morales has fractured the constitutional order and must resign. So also senators, deputies, and members of the Court of Justice, and the Constitutional Court”, while Mesa tweeted on 5th November, “The greatest risk to democracy is the permanence of Evo Morales in power. Consequently, we propose that the democratic and peaceful way to get Morales out of the government is the popular vote”.

The two key figures instrumental in the unfolding chaos have each secured the outcome they openly desired; Fernando, Morales’ resignation, and Mesa, the opportunity to return to the polls for the next democratically elected president. This is where action against Morales must cease, for the safety and security of the nation. The continued manhunt for Morales and perpetuation of violence against him and his allies only encourages greater violence by inciting retaliatory action from supporters of Morales. Furthermore, the longer violence is incited against Morales and his allies, the greater amount of conviction can be put behind the argument of a coup, which will not look great in the opposition’s favour, and will likely only incite further violence.

Morales removed term limits on presidency in a Supreme Electoral Court ruling that helped secure his fourth presidency, despite not having the support of the majority of the population in a 2016 referendum to do so. This may have been a risky move on his behalf in relation to political security in the country. However, thus far there is no proof that electoral fraud was committed, and for now, he has at least acted admirably in resigning to ease tensions and put the power back in the hands of the Bolivian people. It is now the duty of opposition parties to also prioritize the safety and security of the people of their nation by refraining from any kind of language that incites violence within the nation, condemning any further acts of violence, calling off the manhunt for Morales, and ensuring upcoming elections held are free and fair.

Katherine Everest