U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ office announced that a special envoy would be sent to Bolivia to support a “peaceful resolution” to its current crisis after military leaders called on the Bolivian president to resign over election irregularities.
Former U.N. special envoy to Colombia Jean Arnault will act as the U.N. envoy to Bolivia to engage with “all Bolivian actors,” and attempt to support peaceful elections in the country.
Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, announced that “the secretary-general remains deeply concerned about developments in Bolivia. He reiterates his appeal to all Bolivians to refrain from violence and exercise utmost restraint.”
Former President Evo Morales served as president of the South American nation for 14 years. He was the country’s first indigenous president in modern history and leader of the ruling Movement Toward Socialism Party (MAS).
After Morales’ government failed to remove constitutional restrictions on serving a fourth term, MAS appealed to Bolivia’s courts to allow the president to run again.
The Organization of American States (OAS) declared there were election irregularities in the October presidential election to protect Morales from having a runoff vote. Opposition leaders called for boycotts and protests in reaction to the news.
Morales also faced growing pressure from the OAS, the European Union, the United States and a handful of Latin American countries to hold new elections.
After Morales announced Saturday that he would hold new presidential elections, the Bolivian military joined opposition leaders and protesters in calling for his removal. Morales resigned Sunday at the suggestion of his country’s military chief.
Senator Jeanine Añez was the second vice president of the Senate and declared the highest-ranking official remaining in the line of succession when Morales’ MAS allies resigned en masse after the president’s resignation.
Añez has promised to hold new elections within 90 days, as required by the Bolivian Constitution.
The United States, Brazil, Colombia, Britain and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido have recognized Añez as interim president.
The governments of Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay and the Maduro government in Venezuela have denounced Morales’ resignation and Añez’s inauguration as a coup.
Russia, an important ally of Morales, said on Thursday it was ready to work with Añez. Despite its readiness to work with the interim president, Russia noted she had come to power without having a full quorum in the legislature.
Morales also has called recent events a coup, tweeting “the coup that causes deaths of my Bolivian brothers is a political and economic conspiracy that comes from the U.S.”
Many are concerned about the interim president’s comments on Bolivia’s indigenous community.
In 2013, then-Senator Añez tweeted that an indigenous ritual of the Aymara people was “satanic.” Morales is an Aymaran, and the Andean Earth Mother Pachamama featured prominently in his speeches and policies.
Añez announced she would be bringing the Bible back to Bolivia’s government palace in a speech, while holding a massive Bible. Under Morales, a new Constitution was approved by a 2009 referendum that removed Catholicism as Bolivia’s state religion.
Asylum in Mexico
Morales and some of his allies have been granted asylum in Mexico for their safety.
Morales claimed in an interview with Spanish daily El Pais published on Wednesday that he was still legally president because his resignation had not yet been accepted by the legislature. MAS members control the majority of the legislature and do not recognize Añez as interim president.
Añez said on Thursday that Morales would not be able to take part in upcoming elections because he is barred from running for a fourth consecutive term.
The secretary-general’s office announced it would support all efforts for a “peaceful resolution to the crisis, including through transparent, inclusive and credible elections.”