Former Bolivian President Jeanine Anez has been arrested for alleged involvement in a “coup” against long-time leftist leader Evo Morales in 2019, the socialist government said on Saturday.
Morales resigned and fled Bolivia in 2019 amid fierce protests against his government and allegations of electoral fraud. Anez, a former senator, took over as interim president by default, but 11 months later Morales’ MAS socialist party returned to power in elections last October.
Government Minister Eduardo del Castillo said the Public Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant for Anez “due to the case of a coup in our country”, a claim Morales, president for nearly 14 years, has long made against his conservative political opponent.
On Friday evening, Anez had shared a link to the arrest warrant on social media, which included her name and those of many of her former Cabinet and said it contained allegations of terrorism and sedition against them.
“The political persecution has begun,” Anez said in her post. “The MAS has decided to return to the styles of the dictatorship.
Morales angered many when he ran for an unprecedented fourth term in 2019, defying term limits. The election, which he won but was later annulled, was dogged by allegations of fraud, including from the Organization of American States (OAS).
His supporters claimed he was ousted in a coup.
“It was not a coup, it was constitutional succession due to electoral fraud,” Anez wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Anez’s 11-month caretaker administration had taken Bolivia in a sharply different direction to Morales and had itself detained some members of Morales’ previous government.
Morales’ former economy minister Luis Arce won in a landslide for MAS to become president, enabling Morales to return from exile.
Bolivian prosecutors are also seeking to arrest two former commanders accused by the current government of involvement in the purported coup against Morales. The military had urged Morales to resign during the protests in 2019.
A prosecutor issued arrest warrants on Thursday for former police chief Yuri Calderón and former Armed Forces commander Williams Kaliman over allegations of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy.
FILE PHOTO: Bolivia‘s interim President Jeanine Anez speaks during a ceremony marking the 195th anniversary of the Bolivia foundation at the presidential palace, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in La Paz, Bolivia, August 6, 2020. REUTERS/David Mercado