Bolivia’s former interim president faces an arrest warrant for terrorism and sedition as prosecutors move against officials who backed the ousting of former leader Evo Morales, which his party – now back in power – considers a coup.
“The political persecution has begun,” said Jeanine Áñez, who headed a conservative administration that took power after Morales resigned in November 2019.
Áñez said on Friday the governing Movement Toward Socialism party “has decided to return to the style of dictatorships”.
The announcement followed warrants issued on Thursday for the former head of the armed forces and police, who had urged Morales to resign amid national protests over his re-election, which opponents insisted was fraudulent.
Ironically, Áñez government issued an arrest warrant for Morales after it assumed power in 2019.
Álvaro Coimbra, who served as justice minister under Áñez, said on Twitter that he also faces an arrest warrant and that one of his vice-ministers had been arrested.
After almost 13 years in the presidency, Morales flew into exile in November 2019 at the urging of police and military leaders and Áñez, who had been several rungs down the line of succession, took power when those above her also resigned.
The interim authorities themselves tried to prosecute Morales and key members of his government, accusing them of rigging an election and of illegally suppressing dissent.
But Morales’s party won election again under his chosen successor, Luis Arce, and the former leader has returned home.
The decision to arrest the former general William Kaliman and ex-police chief Iván Calderón was denounced by the independent Permanent Assembly of Human Rights of Bolivia, a group that originally emerged to confront military dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s.
Both allies and foes of Morales allege they were victim of deadly persecution either before or after he was forced from office.
Kaliman and Calderón had said that only Morales resignation could pacify the polarized nation. Kaliman, who had been appointed by Morales, was replaced shortly after the leftist departed.
Also under investigation is Luis Fernando Camacho, governor-elect of Santa Cruz province, who was a key backer of the effort to remove Morales. Neither he nor Áñez yet face arrest warrants. Official efforts to question Camacho on Thursday were suspended when a massive array of his followers appeared at the courthouse.
Credit: The Guardian