President Evo Morales, who came to power in Bolivia over a decade ago as part of a leftist wave sweeping Latin America, resigned on Sunday after unrelenting protests by an infuriated population that accused him of undermining democracy by clinging to office.

End of Morales came on Friday night, when a smattering of small police units made dramatic pronouncements that they were breaking from the government and joining angry protesters over suspicions that the October 20 election had been rigged.

On Sunday, the Organization of American States, which monitored the elections, said it had found evidence of wide-scale data manipulation, and could not certify the result of the previous polls.

Pressure continued to build on Mr Morales during the day, as several of his political allies resigned, some citing fears for the safety of their families.

The army chief, General Williams Kaliman, also urged Mr Morales to resign “to allow for pacification and the maintaining of stability”.

The military also said it would conduct operations to “neutralise” any armed groups that attacked the protesters.

Opposition leader Carlos Mesa – who came second in last month’s poll – thanked protesters for “the heroism of peaceful resistance”.

However, the Cuban and Venezuelan leaders – who had previously voiced their support for Mr Morales – condemned the events as a “coup”.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel described it as a “violent and cowardly” attempt against democracy, while Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said tweeted: “We categorically condemn the coup realized against our brother president.”

Mexico says it is considering granting asylum to Mr Morales.

Mr Morales, who was Bolivia’s first indigenous president, had served as leader since 2006.

He ran for a fourth consecutive term in the October elections after a controversial decision by the constitutional court to scrap presidential term limits.

In a 2016 referendum, a majority had voted “no” to dropping the limit of term numbers that Bolivians could serve.

However, Mr Morales’ party took the issue to the constitutional court, which abolished the term limits altogether.

 

 

 

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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