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Bolivian factions fight for control as Morales snipes from afar

Matthew Bristow and John Quigley, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Anez, is struggling to consolidate control as lawmakers and former ministers loyal to ousted socialist leader Evo Morales try to reclaim the levers of power.

Three days after Morales fled for Mexican exile after accusations of fraud as he sought a fourth term, his opponents and supporters continue to agitate on his behalf. Support from the army, the constitutional court and some foreign governments, including the U.S., means that Anez has the upper hand for now.

"There are two groups of people claiming to be the government," said Kathryn Ledebur, director of the Andean Information Network, a Bolivia-based think tank. "The armed forces are backing one. I don't know if that's definitive."

Anez has appointed a new cabinet and military high command since she staked her claim to office Tuesday. But Morales' MAS party has a majority in both houses of congress, and members are doing everything they can to undermine Anez, who they say has no legal authority to govern.

Anez said Thursday that her presidency is "strictly provisional," and has two main objectives: the repeal of a court ruling that allowed Morales to seek a fourth term and the organization of new elections as soon as possible.

Morales quit Sunday along with his vice president and the heads of congress. He fled to Mexico and says he's the victim of a "right-wing coup."

 

Anez, who was an opposition senator and second vice president of the body, told congress Tuesday that she would assume the leadership, and that the constitution therefore made her interim head of state after Morales left the country.

Since then, Morales' allies have cast about for arguments about why she isn't, and for possible replacements.

Pro-Morales Senate leader Adriana Salvatierra announced her resignation Sunday, but there are questions over whether this was valid, because it wasn't submitted in writing and approved by the upper house.

Morales' party also elected a new leader of the lower house Thursday who, under the constitution, would be third in line to the presidency after the vice president and the Senate leader.

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