Nation's Ex-President Arrested: 'Political Persecution Has Begun'

Jeanine Anez denies she replaced Evo Morales in Bolivian 'coup,' calling it a 'constitutional succession'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2021 6:00 AM CST
Former Bolivian President Arrested for 2019 'Coup'
Jeanine Anez, then-interim president of Bolivia, is seen during the swearing-in ceremony of her cabinet of ministers at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, on Jan. 20, 2020.   (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Bolivian President Evo Morales served for nearly 14 years before he was forced to resign in 2019 amid allegations of electoral fraud after his reelection victory. Now, the lawmaker who took over for him has been arrested. Jeanine Anez, the country's former interim president, posted a link Friday on Twitter that showed her arrest warrant, noting "the political persecution has begun" and that the country's Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party "has decided to return to the styles of the dictatorship." Reuters notes that the warrant showed not only Anez's name, but those of various members of her former Cabinet, and that accusations of sedition and terrorism were mentioned. Anez was apparently detained shortly after those posts. "I inform the Bolivian people that Mrs. Jeanine Anez has already been apprehended and is currently in the hands of the police," Carlos Eduardo Del Castillo, the country's minister of government, tweeted Saturday, per Al Jazeera.

The New York Times reports that by Friday afternoon, at least two of those who'd served under Anez and were named in the warrant—ex-energy chief Rodrigo Guzman and former head of justice Alvaro Coimbra—had been arrested. Castillo added that the warrant for Anez was "due to the case of a coup in our country," per Reuters. Morales, whom the Times calls a "divisive and transformative socialist leader" and the nation's first Indigenous president, ran for a fourth term in 2019, bucking term limits. Although he won the election, the vote was contested, with accusations of election irregularities and possible rigging. Anez, a conservative senator, took over after Morales was ousted and fled the country, but his socialist MAS party won the 2020 elections, handing the presidency to his ally Luis Arce. At any rate, Anez denies she took over in a coup. "It was not a coup, it was a constitutional succession due to electoral fraud," Anez posted on Twitter before her arrest. (Read more Bolivia stories.)

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