Bolivia’s Morales flies to Mexico to seek asylum

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Mexico City: The Mexican government has confirmed that former Bolivian President Evo Morales, who resigned after nearly 14 years in power after coming under immense pressue amid the anti-government protests, was aboard a plane it had sent to the South American country after it had granted him asylum for “humanitarian reasons”.

“Evo Morales is already on the Mexican government plane sent to ensure his safe transfer to our country,” Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted at about 7.45 p.m. on Monday.

A Mexican Air Force plane flew via Lima to take Morales to Mexico, and the government of Peru confirmed that at Mexico’s request, it had authorized the airspace entry and fueling of a Mexican-flag aircraft flying to Bolivia to pick him up, reports Efe news.

Morales had earlier on Monday tweeted that he was “leaving for Mexico, grateful for the generosity of the government of that brother nation who grants us asylum so that we can take care of our lives”.

“It hurts me to leave the country for political reasons, but I will remain pending. Soon I will return with more strength and energy,” he added.

Morales posted the message on Twitter minutes after another tweet in which he claimed to have taken refuge in Bolivia’s central region of Cochabamba, without specifying the exact location.

Ebrard had announced earlier in the day that Morales had responded to its asylum offer.

“I inform you that a few minutes ago we received a call from President Evo Morales. He responded to our invitation and is verbally and formally requesting asylum in our country,” Ebrard said in a news conference in here.

He added that Mexico “has decided to grant asylum” to Morales “for humanitarian reasons and because of the urgent situation in Bolivia where his life is at risk”.

Ebrard said that he had informed the Organization of American States (OAS) of this decision invoking the “international protection of life, liberty and integrity of Evo Morales”, and he will inform the UN and the Mexican Senate of that as well.

The Bolivian leader’s resignation on Sunday came after he announced that a new presidential election will be held and the country’s electoral entity would be completely restructured amid denunciations of irregularities in the October 20 vote by the OAS in which he had been re-elected to a fourth term.

Many had complained that the vote was rigged to ensure he remained in power.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, meanwhile, urged the Bolivian legislature to meet on an “urgent” basis and “ensure” that the country’s institutions continued to operate properly during a transition period leading to the new election.

Pro- and anti-government protesters have been clashing since the day after the election, leaving at least three people dead and 421 others injured, according to official figures.

On Sunday, at least three people were wounded when someone opened fire on a highway in the highlands on a caravan of buses carrying miners headed to La Paz to join the protests against Morales.

(Agencies)