Ousted leader Evo Morales calls on supporters to join him at Bolivia’s border

Ousted leader Evo Morales calls on supporters to join him at Bolivia’s border

Bolivia’s ousted president summoned his supporters to a rally on the Argentine border yesterday to choose a candidate for next year’s elections.

Evo Morales, 60, sought political asylum in Argentina when he was forced out of office in November after 14 years as president, ending his tenure as Latin America’s longest-serving leader.

Speaking to Argentine radio at the weekend, he said he had called the meeting of his Movement for Socialism party on the border. “We will choose our candidate with a view to the upcoming elections in Bolivia,” Mr Morales told Radio La Network.

He has ruled out running for another term but has named two allies as his desired successors: Luis Arce Catacora, his former finance minister, and Andrónico Rodríguez, a union boss.

A former coca farmer, Mr Morales was the first indigenous Bolivian to be elected president in 2005. Support evaporated after he overrode the two-term presidential term limit set by the constitution, and he was accused of rigging elections in October to win a fourth term.

The result was annulled after an Organisation of American States audit found clear evidence of fraud.

He was forced to resign and fled to Mexico, then Argentina, apparently in fear of his life. He has been in Argentina since December 12.

The interim government, led by Jeanine Áñez, has issued a warrant for his arrest. It accuses Mr Morales of fomenting unrest and it released an audio recording last week in which he allegedly tells a supporter to block lorries and sever the food supply to several cities. He claims the recording is fake.

Bolivia initially petitioned Mexico to prevent Mr Morales from making political statements, but to no avail. The Bolivian government has now appealed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to stop him influencing next year’s election.

Mr Morales, who lifted millions out of poverty, still enjoys support in the countryside. He has previously made U-turns after ruling himself out from running again for the presidency.

Bolivia’s electoral tribunal is expected to set a date by January 2 for new elections within 120 days.

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