Bolivia’s coup-imposed government now has a court order for the arrest of former President Evo Morales, issued on the grounds of his alleged incitement of riots and “terrorism” in the divided South American nation.
A photo of the arrest order has been shared on Twitter by Arturo Murillo, the interior minister of the “transitional” government of Jeanine Anez. He had previously promised to jail Morales “for the rest of his life,” calling him a “terrorist.”
Actually arresting Morales is currently easier said than done for Murillo, as the former Bolivian president has accepted political asylum in Argentina, and has vowed to “keep fighting” the opposition-led coup.
Morales weighed in later on Wednesday with a few tweets of his own, joking that the arrest warrant was the “best gift” he had ever received from the interim government and slamming the order as “unfair, illegal and unconstitutional.”
The veteran politician, who ruled over the Latin American nation for about 14 years, resigned in November under pressure from top military officials after weeks of opposition protests. Morales, who was suspected by the opposition of election fraud following the results of October’s presidential vote, was eventually forced into exile in Mexico.
A month later, he moved to Argentina, where he also sought political asylum. Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, the prominent left-wing leader vowed to “continue fighting for the poor” and to unite what he called the “great party,” apparently referring to the Movement for Socialism (MAS) he had led, before his exile.
MAS has already chosen Morales to run its upcoming election campaign from abroad, with a snap vote promised by the opposition-held government.
The exiled politician still wields significant backing at home; crowds of Morales’ supporters have been regularly hitting the streets following his ousting. The new ‘interim government’ has sought to resolve Bolivia’s dire political crisis by launching a police crackdown against protesters, which saw dozens of people killed in clashes.
Back in October, Morales won the election after a tight race with the major opposition candidate, Carlos Mesa. The left-wing politician barely managed to clear the 10 percent point margin needed to avoid a run-off. Yet, it was not just the local opposition that was swift to accuse him of vote rigging.
The Organization of American States (OAS) – an intergovernmental structure comprised of most countries located in the Americas and headquartered in Washington, DC – interfered in the situation and sided with the opposition. In early December, it issued a “final report” on the matter, accusing the former president of “manipulations.”
Morales hit back by saying that OAS might in fact have had a hand in what he called a “coup” against him, adding that it was all about Bolivia’s lithium reserves, which are among the largest in the world. The ousted president planned to nationalize the extraction of lithium and that, apparently, did not sit well with some “industrialized countries,” he said.