‘Totally Illegal’: Morales Remains Bolivia’s President Until Congress Accepts Resignation

© AP Photo / Eduardo VerdugoFormer Bolivian President Evo Morales in Mexico City
Former Bolivian President Evo Morales in Mexico City - Sputnik International
Despite the fact that Bolivia’s Second Vice Speaker of the Senate Jeanine Añez assumed the title of interim president on Tuesday, the ousted former President Evo Morales is still technically the leader of the country according to Bolivia’s constitution, Patricio Zamorano, the co-director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), told Sputnik.

“We have to remember, and this is extremely clear according to the Bolivian constitution ... on paper, Evo Morales is still the president of Bolivia. And all these people, especially the government political party authorities that resigned with Morales, their power is still in place, and all that is because the Bolivian Congress hasn't been able to convene to create a session to [assess] these resignations,” Zamorano told Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear on Friday. 


“The constitution is extremely clear that the resignation of the president must be accepted by Congress, and because of the coup d'état, because of the lack of security, especially for the congressmen and congresswomen of the mass political party of president Morales, that part of the constitution is not fulfilled yet. So we are in this weird situation,” he told hosts John Kikiakou and Brian Becker, also noting that Añez’s self-proclaimed presidency is “totally illegal.”

Amid a US-directed coup carried out by right-wing opposition leaders, Morales was forced to resign Sunday. The opposition has falsely claimed there were irregularities in the October 20 presidential election, which Morales won by more than the margin that mandates a runoff. Other leading government officials from Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party also resigned, creating the vacuum in which Añez made her power grab.

Morales is currently in Mexico, where he has been granted asylum due to concerns for his safety. Thousands of Bolivian indigenous people who support Morales have staged rallies in support of him, and Morales has accused opposition leaders Carlos Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho of orchestrating a coup against his leadership.

While the MAS senators, who hold a majority in the chamber, stayed away on Wednesday, preventing quorum on replacing Morales, their return to the Senate was blocked by police the following day, meaning the country’s law enforcement stand in the way of the constitutionality of their own coup d’etat.

“We know that people are mobilized” on the ground in Bolivia, Zamorano explained.

“We have to remember: a big percentage, at least half of the population in Bolivia, agrees with President Morales. We are not talking about a government that is not popular at all - -t’s totally the opposite. The country was doing extremely well in terms of its economy; the unemployment rate is very marginal; inflation is marginal; the growth of the economy is extremely healthy for the [past few years] - an average of 5% [growth] every single year, better than the US, by the way,” Zamorano noted.

“So, we have a situation [in which a] big percentage of the population [doesn’t] agree with what’s going on. We are extremely concerned about the expressions of racism that we have been hearing from the new authorities, especially the self-proclaimed President Añez, who has been extremely radical in her views, negative views toward the indigenous background of Evo Morales - and the government in general - being herself an indigenous person. You can see her face and her background; she is also indigenous and mixed-race. So, it’s extremely concerning the racism we are witnessing now,” Zamorano added.

On Thursday, Añez, who is a born-again evangelical Christian, said that she wants the government in Bolivia to be a “democratic tool of inclusion and unity,” the Guardian reported. However, ironically, the cabinet that was sworn into office Wednesday did not include any indigenous people, even though at least 40% of the country’s population is a member of one of the 36 indigenous groups in Bolivia, the Guardian reported.

“The facts are the facts,” Zamorano said, asserting that the events that have taken place in Bolivia during the last week undeniably constitute a coup.

“Evo Morales, just a few hours before he was forced to resign by the military …  declared that he was going to organize new elections to repeat the elections. He actually asked the electorate court of Bolivia to resign, to name new authorities because of the irregularities that the OAS [Organization of American States] was talking about. There’s absolutely nothing about electoral fraud in that report. The report is extremely partial anyways,” Zamorano told Sputnik.

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