In interview in Mexico City, ousted Bolivian president says he renounced his candidacy in the name of peace
Bolivias ousted and exiled president, Evo Morales, says he has ruled out standing in his countrys next elections to stop the existing crisis sliding into a broader civil or ethnic conflict.
He told the Guardian: This is what I am afraid of and it is what we have to avoid, which is why I am renouncing my candidacy. In the name of peace, sacrifices have to be made and I am sacrificing my candidacy even though I have every right to it.
Morales, who became Bolivias first indigenous president when he took office in 2006, fled to Mexico on 11 November. This occurred three weeks after elections he claimed to have won sparked accusations of fraud and widespread protests, which culminated with the head of the army calling on him to go.
The following day rightwing senator Jeanine ez swore herself in as interim president. At least 32 people have died since then, most of them reportedly in army crackdowns on pro-Morales protests. There have also been signs of social and racial tension between the mostly poor and indigenous protesters and wealthier onlookers.
Bolivias new interior minister, Arturo Murillo, has vowed to jail the former president for the rest of his life, accusing the exiled leftist of inciting anti-government protests that he claimed amounted to terrorism.
From his new temporary home in Mexico City, Morales blamed the crisis in Bolivia on the racist and vengeful old elite he insisted has mounted a coup with the help of the US, which he described as the empire in the north. But he said his priority must now be helping to get the de facto government out by pushing it towards elections.
They say no to Evo, and so I say OK, no problem, he said.
Morales was speaking as Bolivias legislature, which is dominated by his Movement Towards Socialism party, was in the process of approving a law that would pave the way for new elections within a few months. It would also ban him from participating in them. ez signed the bill into law on Sunday.
Morales admitted that part of the reason he had backed away from his vow to serve out his term until 22 January was because demands for his return had weakened.
Talks between protest leaders and the interim government led to a promise on Sunday from ez to withdraw the military in exchange for lifting road blockades that had left several major cities hit by fuel and food shortages.
They are not renouncing their struggle against the coup, said Morales, who is living inside a Mexican military base and accompanied by plainclothes soldiers everywhere he goes. But the truth is that of course people get tired after two weeks of resistance and so many dead.