An interim government has taken power and has vowed to hold new elections at “the earliest possible times,” but supporters of the ousted president have echoed the longtime leader’s claim that Morales was the victim of a coup. Protesters have since taken to the streets, where they’ve faced riot police and the military.
The violence, which took place as Bolivian security services attempted to clear a path for gas tanks to leave the Senkata gas plant near La Paz on Tuesday left atleast eight dead, totaling to at least 31 fatalities in a political unrest sparked by a disputed presidential election on October 20.
President Jeanine Añez blamed Morales for the uptick in violence telling CNN:
“I am astonished by the shape of violence Evo Morales has generated within the country by simply holding on to power.”
The Añez government was accused by the Human Rights Watch of giving the military sweeping powers that “appear to prioritize brutally cracking down on opponents and critics and give the armed forces a blank check to commit abuses instead of working to restore the rule of law in the country.”
Americas director at Human Rights Watch José Miguel Vivanco said in a statement:
“The priority should be to ensure that the fundamental rights of Bolivians, including to peaceful protest and other peaceful assembly, are upheld.”
Morales, who led the country for 14 years was the first indigenous Bolivian to be elected president. His leftist policies to reduce poverty and support indigenous Bolivians were supported by many.
Among those protesting are angry indigenous Bolivians who feel the new government is both unelected and does not represent them in terms of both religion and race.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Indigenous people make up some 20% of Bolivia’s population, while 68% of the country has some Amerindian ancestry.
Añez and her cabinet has no indigenous representation.