(above) Parts of Bolivia have been crippled by violent clashes since Evo Morales' resignation - Credit: Reuters


Bolivia crisis: Interim leader appoints first US envoy in 11 years


Bolivia's interim leader has appointed the country's first US ambassador in 11 years, after vowing to overturn many of ex-President Evo Morales' policies.

The new ambassador, Walter Oscar Serrate Cuellar, used to be the country's representative to the UN.

Mr Morales, a socialist who led Bolivia for almost 14 years and was its first indigenous president, resigned on 10 November and fled to Mexico.

He stepped down after a disputed presidential election last month.

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The election result sparked weeks of protests, culminating in Mr Morales' resignation. He says he was the victim of a right-wing coup.

Since he resigned, parts of the country have been crippled by violent protests. At least 29 people have been killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, Reuters reported.

During Mr Morales' time in power, the country's relationship with the US was tense. In 2008, under former US President George W Bush, ambassadors from both countries were expelled during a diplomatic spat.

What's changing in Bolivia?
Right-wing senator Jeanine Áñez declared herself interim president shortly after Mr Morales' resignation, and was formally recognised by the US.

Almost straightaway, she began reversing the socialist ex-leader's policies.

Click on picture to go to video in YouTube

She broke diplomatic ties with the socialist governments of Cuba and Venezuela, which were previously two of Bolivia's closest allies in the region.

Ms Áñez also formally recognised Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's president, rather than President Nicolás Maduro.

All of Bolivia's ambassadors were dismissed, except for those to the Vatican and Peru.

What happened to Evo Morales?

Mr Morales, who was the country's first leader from the indigenous community, declared victory in the 20 October election.

But opposition groups said the results were rigged. The outcome was also called into question by the Organization of American States, a regional body, which had found "clear manipulation" and called for the result to be annulled.

In response, Mr Morales agreed to hold fresh elections. But his main rival, Carlos Mesa - who came second in the vote - said Mr Morales should not stand in any new poll.

The chief of the armed forces, Gen Williams Kaliman, then urged Mr Morales to step down in the interests of peace and stability.

Click on picture to see video on YouTube.

Mr Morales announced his resignation soon afterwards. He then went to Mexico, where he claimed political asylum.

Both he and his former top minister Juan Ramón Quintana have now been accused of sedition and terrorism by Bolivia's interim government, which wants to put them under arrest.

Interior Minister Arturo Murillo has accused Mr Morales of organising roadblocks to prevent food from entering Bolivian cities, and said he wanted to see the former president jailed for life. Mr Morales disputed the credibility of the allegations on Twitter.