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‘We’ll be back’: Evo Morales on Bolivia unrest and resignation

The former president of Bolivia discusses his resignation, country’s political crisis and plans for the future.

He’s recognised by many as a symbol of left-wing movements in Latin America.

Evo Morales became Bolivia’s first indigenous president after his party, Movement for Socialism, won the 2005 election.

During his 14 years in power, Bolivia‘s economy had one of the highest growth rates in Latin America and poverty almost halved.

For the unity of Bolivia, I withdraw my candidacy. I only ask them to allow us to complete our mandate.

by Evo Morales, Bolivia's former president

Taking advantage of his popularity, Morales decided not to complete his first five-year term and called for an early election in 2009. He secured a second victory easily.

Then a new constitution limited presidents to two terms in office.

Morales promised not to stand for re-election in 2014, but he successfully ran for a third term after a court ruled that his first election preceded the new constitution.

The activist-turned-politician then planned for a fourth term in office, but Bolivians rejected his wish during a 2016 referendum – only to have a court rule against that referendum, saying the laws limiting the re-election of the president violated his political rights.

Morales took part in the recent October elections. Results were immediately disputed because of accusations of multiple irregularities.

People across Bolivia protested in the tens of thousands, and the crisis escalated when the Organization of American States (OAS) published a report saying the vote had forged signatures and that there had been data manipulation.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Morales insisted there was no fraud in the October election and denounced the report of OAS, accusing it of being politically motivated.

“I realised that it (the preliminary report) was politically motivated. I instructed the FM to call the OAS secretary-general to suspend the report’s publication because it was going to create chaos in the country and more people were going to be killed. And that’s what’s happening now. The OAS is also part of the military coup. I told then that the preliminary report was going to bring us more deaths and create more confrontation, but they published it anyways,” Morales said.

“I had a lot of trust, or some trust. But now, I don’t have any in the OAS. They should be called the Organization of the states of North America, not America.

Morales called for a new election, but it was too late. The military urged him to step down to restore peace and stability.

Morales announced his departure on Twitter writing: “It hurts to leave the country for political reasons, but I will stay in touch … Soon I will return with more strength and energy.”

He has been granted asylum in Mexico. But what is his plan moving forward? Will he remain in Mexico, or return to Bolivia?

“One can’t stay outside of his own country. I’m used to working alongside the people as a union leader, president,” said Morales, who has accused his opponents of conspiring against his government.

“I miss helping them. I’m looking for legal backing to return to Bolivia, and I am sure, we will be back … I am not afraid. I have the right to return to Bolivia and defend myself and the people of Bolivia … We will be back and join the fight to strengthen our social forces.”

 The former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, talks to Al Jazeera.