Morales’ Party Hopes to Retain Role in Bolivian Politics With or Without Him
November 26, 2019 - Original article: Latin American Herald Tribune


LA PAZ – Bolivia is headed for new elections and for the first time in almost 14 years, Evo Morales will not be a candidate – but within his party, the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), it is hoped he will play an important part in the process.

Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Añez, decreed this Sunday the exceptional and transitory emergency law for the 2020 General Elections, which was unanimously passed the day before by Congress, where MAS holds the majority in both houses.

The process toward new elections got started in a nation that could go a radically different way after almost 14 years of government by the indigenous leader.

As for the enactment of this emergency law and the current political scenario, there is talk that the MAS could be disqualified since it is the party whose candidate was Evo Morales in the elections held last Oct. 20.

Results of the last presidential election have been annulled by this new law, while the electoral body that carried it out is being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office for suspected fraud favoring the MAS candidate.

For Sen. Edwin Rodriguez of Democratic Unity, the party of the interim president, “there are various interpretations” about who could be responsible for the suspected fraud and that “it must first be shown under what conditions that crime was committed.”

“The indications of fraud can possibly be attributed to the electoral body” or “to the MAS as the party of Morales.”

In any case, the new Supreme Electoral Tribunal will determine whether there are reasons for disqualification or not.

What the interim government has made very clear is that Morales cannot run for the high office again, nor can any head of state try to stay in power for more than two terms, as established in the constitution.

One of the key articles of the new law reaffirms that constitutional limit, after Morales was proclaimed winner of a fourth term after the now-invalidated election.

The person who was his vice president since he first took power in 2006, Alvaro Garcia Linera, has said from exile in Mexico that neither he nor Morales will run for office in the next elections.

Since the day before Morales resigned on Nov. 10 under pressure from the armed forces, some of his former allies like the Bolivian Workers Central (COB), farm workers unions and indigenous organizations have distanced themselves from their leader. Some have even joined the ranks of those asking for his resignation.

Contrary to what has been seen over the last few days, MAS wishes to show itself as strong and united “for the good of the country,” while continuing to denounce the “coup d’etat” perpetrated against Morales.

Alicia Conqui, a MAS lawmaker representing Chuquisaca province, told Efe “that an election without Evo Morales won’t change things very much because the militants are standing strong.”

“No, the MAS will be strengthened even more despite the coup committed against us,” she said.

For Remberto Calani, MAS lawmaker for La Paz, the current state of affairs represents “a challenge” for the party and for the social organizations that made up the process of change undertaken by Evo Morales since before he rose to power.

The intention is for Morales “be present here in Bolivia” directing the campaign, Calani said.

The interim government of Añez says Morales can return to the country, but at the risk of facing charges filed against him for such crimes as terrorism and sedition.