Former Bolivian President Evo Morales has arrived in Argentina and been granted refugee status, Argentine Foreign Minister Felipe Sola said on Thursday.
Morales had previously been in Mexico where he was granted asylum after he resigned November amid pressure after a disputed election. He was again granted asylum to travel to Argentina and had made the request for refugee status to stay, Sola said on news channel TN.
“We want a commitment from Evo Morales not to make political statements in Argentina,” Sola said, adding that four other people had also requested asylum.
The former Bolivian president’s arrival comes just two days after new Argentine President Alberto Fernandez was inaugurated. Fernandez had previously said there had been a “coup” against Morales.
Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, Morales resigned as president on November 10 after his 14-year rule imploded following the release of Organization of American States (OAS) audit that detailed damning irregularities in the October vote.
The revelations prompted Morales’s governing party allies to quit and the army to urge Morales’s departure from the country, which had been rocked by protests, both for and against the president, across the country since the vote.
“I had a conversation yesterday with Evo Morales who informed me of his decision to move to Buenos Aires. He thanked the generosity of the people and government of Mexico,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted on Thursday.
Sola said there was no meeting planned between Morales and Fernandez, but they could talk on the phone.
After the resignation of Morales, Jeanine Anez, the second vice president of the Senate, declared herself interim president of Bolivia, saying every person in the line of succession ahead of her, all Morales backers, had resigned. The country’s Constitutional Court backed her claim that she did not need to be confirmed by Congress, a body controlled by Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party.
Morales supporters, many fearing renewed racism against Indigenous communities, continued to protest in the wake of his departure.
Allegations of human rights abuses
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has called for the investigation of alleged rights abuses by the interim government during the unrest. A report released this week documented 36 deaths in the post-election violence.
Investigators found “strong indications of human rights violations, with profound repercussions for the life of Bolivian society”, the report said.
The interim government disputed the report, with Eddy Luis Franco, vice minister for coordination with social movements, calling it “unfair”.
Last month, Bolivia’s Congress approved a bill annulling the result of October’s election and calling for new elections to be held without Morales. The elections are expected sometime next year.
Morales, in an interview with Al Jazeera in November, pledged to return to Bolivia.
Anez has said the former president is free to return to the country, but has to “answer to justice for electoral fraud”.
“Justice has to do its work without political pressures,” she added.
Morales has maintained that he left the country because of threats of violence against him and his collaborators.