Russia condemns fall of Bolivia’s Morales, EU calls for calm

Members of Argentinian leftist organisations attend a demontration supporting Bolivian President Evo Morales, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 11 November 2019. [Juan Ignacio Roncoroni/EPA/EFE]

Russia on Monday (11 November) said the resignation of Evo Morales as Bolivian president looked like the result of a coup, while the European Union called for restraint on all sides.

Venezuela and Cuba also condemned what they said was a coup, while Mexico offered asylum to the fallen leader. But Brazil’s right-wing leader argued that it had been electoral fraud that brought Morales down.

Morales resigned in a televised address on Sunday, soon after the heads of the army and police withdrew their backing for him. Later, he tweeted that a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

In the confusion, a group of 20 lawmakers and government officials took refuge at the Mexican ambassador’s residence, and Mexico announced it was offering asylum to Morales as well.

Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the opposition protests that had led to Morales’ downfall in a statement Monday.

It expressed “deep concern” over the events, which it said “followed the scenario of a staged coup d’état”.

“We call on all political forces in Bolivia to show common sense and responsibility,” the statement added, calling for a “constitutional way out of the situation”.

The EU’s diplomatic chief also urged all sides in Bolivia to exercise “restraint and responsibility” in a statement Monday.

She expressed the hope that they would “lead the country peacefully and quietly to new elections, credible elections that can let the people of Bolivia express their democratic will”.

The EU’s incoming foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Monday that Bolivia’s election results could not be validated, citing a report that pointed to various failures amounting to more than just “simple irregularities.”

Already Sunday, the left-wing governments of Venezuela and Cuba had condemned Morales’ departure as a coup.

Cuba “expresses solidarity with its brother president Evo Morales,” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a tweet, describing Morales as “a protagonist and a symbol of the rights of the indigenous peoples of our Americas”.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro condemned what he called a “coup d’Etat” in a post on Twitter.

Argentina’s president-elect Alberto Fernandez, who takes office on 10 December, also referred to a “coup d’Etat” in a Twitter post.

But Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro said: “The allegations of fraud in the elections led to culminated in the resignation of President Evo Morales.”

The lesson to draw was the need for a transparent election system, he added.

Morales stepped down after three weeks of demonstrations over his disputed re-election, which Latin American observers said was marred by irregularities.

He became Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2006 and won a controversial fourth term when he was declared the winner of the 20 October presidential election by a narrow margin.

The opposition cried foul and after an audit of the election the Organization of American States called on Sunday for the vote to be held again.

Morales called a new election, but after the commanders of the armed forces and the police joined calls for him to step down, he announced his resignation.

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