- "The dispersed vote and candidates who fail to bring Bolivians together has led me to make this decision," said Añez.
- The interim president had previously said that it would not be right to run for election.
- Evo Morales, barred from running in the May elections, has since named his former Minister of economy and public finance, Luis Arce, as his party's presidential candidate.
Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Añez, announced her candidacy for the presidency on Friday, in a move that has since provoked criticism from the country’s opposition. Presidential elections in Bolivia are scheduled for May 3. “It was not in my plans,” said Añez at an event in La Paz where her coalition, Together, was launched.
Although she had insisted in the past that she would not run, the interim leader justified her decision by saying that she wanted to help unite a fragmented country that is deeply divided by political polarization. “The dispersed vote and candidates who fail to bring Bolivians together has led me to make this decision,” said Añez at a meeting of her party, the Democrat Social Movement.
“We respect the decision of those who have yet to join, I extend a hand to them and assure them the door remains open to join this broad and diverse front that seeks to work for everyone,” she said. Añez assumed the presidency in November last year, after ex-president Evo Morales, ex-vice president Álvaro García Linera and other parliamentarians, including the president Senate, resigned. She invoked a constitutional clause that dictated that she was the next in succession to govern as interim leader.
Her conservative government immediately moved away from Morales’ policies, breaking with traditionally allied countries, such as Cuba and Venezuela, and establishing closer ties with the United States. Añez, 52, who owns a TV channel and was a lawyer before joining politics, is a strong opponent of Morales. The ex-president, in response, frequently criticizes her government for the excessive use of military force to suppress protests, many of them organized by indigenous people.
The interim president had previously said that it would not be right to run for election. She told the Reuters news agency this month that she was focused on joining the fragmented opposition to Morales, who, even though not a candidate, has been running the campaign for his party, MAS (Movement for Socialism). On Wednesday, some of her ministers were already hinting at the possibility of her candidacy. Several of them published messages on social networks with the hashtag “#YSiFueraElla?” (“What if it was her?”).
Under Añez’s leadership, the interim government has so far managed to ease tension in the country, which saw dozens of people loose lives in street protests late last year. She has also established a new electoral court, and paved the way for new elections, to be held on May 3.
Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, currently lives in Argentina as a refugee. He resigned on November 10, after an OAS (Organization of American States) audit found irregularities in the October vote, and pressure from the country’s police force as well as the army who insisted that he vacates office as a means of restoring peace in the country.
The former president denies any wrongdoing and claims he was overthrown by a coup. The leftist, barred from running in the May elections, has since named his former Minister of economy and public finance, Luis Arce, as his party’s presidential candidate, alongside former Chancellor David Choquehuanca.