LA PAZ, Bolivia: Clashes broke out in the streets of Bolivia’s capital Tuesday evening when an opposition leader in the Senate declared herself the country’s interim president after Evo Morales fled to Mexico following his surprise weekend resignation.
Jeanine Añez claimed the post of Senate leader late in the day, a position next in line for the presidency, even though she lacked a quorum because of a boycott by Morales’ Movement for Socialism party.
Without being sworn in by anyone, she then appeared on a balcony of the old presidential palace wearing the presidential sash and holding a Bible in her hand.
“My commitment is to return democracy and tranquility to the country,” she said. “They can never again steal our vote.”
It was uncertain how much support Añez could count on from other power centers in her bid to replace Morales, who stepped down Sunday under pressure from Bolivia’s military following weeks of violent protests fed by allegations of electoral fraud in the October 20 presidential election.
Some Bolivians quickly took to the streets cheering and waving national flags in opposition strongholds like the cities of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, but angry Morales’ supporters tried to reach the Congress building in La Paz screaming, “She must quit!” Police and soldiers fired tear gas trying to disperse the crowd and detained some demonstrators.