Evo Morales, Now in Exile, to Run for Bolivia’s Senate
CARACAS, Venezuela — Evo Morales, the former Bolivian president who fled his country in November amid violent protests over his bid to stay in power, will attempt to run for the Senate in the country’s upcoming elections.
The announcement is only the most recent sign that Mr. Morales intends to play an active role in Bolivian politics, despite living in exile in Argentina and facing an arrest warrant issued by Bolivia’s interim government.
Mr. Morales’ plans were made public on Monday when his party registered his candidacy with the country’s electoral tribunal. Mr. Morales congratulated his party on Twitter for choosing “the best men and women for the next legislature.”
His plan to run is likely to heighten tensions ahead of Bolivia’s election on May 3, in which the country will choose its next president.
Three months after Mr. Morales’s abrupt exit from office, Bolivia remains bitterly divided between his supporters, many of them from the country’s Indigenous majority, and the long-ruling elite of European descent.
Mr. Morales, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, was in power for 14 years, but fled after his attempt to win a fourth term resulted in a disputed election and violent protests.
When Jeanine Añez stepped in as interim president, she first said that she would lead as a caretaker until a new election could be held — and that she would not run for president. But she has since begun an aggressive effort to reverse many of the leftist policies of Mr. Morales. She has sought closer ties to the United States and sent home Venezuelan diplomats and Cuban doctors.
In late January she announced she would run for president. The election is shaping into a battle between the competing visions of Mr. Morales and Ms. Añez for the country’s political identity.
Mr. Morales is barred from running for the presidency in this election. And it is unclear if he will actually be able to run for the Senate. He could be disqualified on a technicality.
To run, “he needs to demonstrate continued residency in Bolivia for at least two years,” said Santiago Anria, a professor of Latin American politics at Dickinson College. “And over the past few months he’s been in Mexico and Argentina.”
Ms. Añez has said in the past that Mr. Morales can return to his country “whenever he wants.” But her government accuses him of sedition and terrorism, meaning he could be arrested upon arrival.
On Monday, Mr. Morales’ political party, Movement Toward Socialism, nominated an economist and former finance minister, Luis Arce, as its presidential candidate.
Seven others also have registered to run for president. They include a former president, Carlos Mesa, a centrist, and several more conservative candidates, like Luis Fernando Camacho, a leader of the protests against Mr. Morales last year, and Chi Hyun-chung, a Korean-born conservative evangelical pastor.
A poll by the firm Mercados y Muestras, released in January, showed that Mr. Arce was supported by 26 percent of voters, more than any other candidate, but not by enough to win outright in a first round.
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To win in the first round on May 3, presidential candidates will need either a majority or 40 percent of the vote and a 10 percent lead over the second-place candidate.
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