The news on Evo Morales’ resignation came as a surprise. With his tight hold of the power in the past 14 years as he ruled Bolivia, it raises the question on why he would suddenly resign? His vice president and heads of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies also resigned with him. They immediately traveled to Mexico to seek asylum. This move created a power vacuum leaving the deputy leader of the Senate as the interim president.
Morales’ later on released a statement that he was taken out of power by a coup de etat and was therefore forced to resign. Despite being in asylum, he continues to send a message to his supporters that he will be back. In Bolivia, members of his party Movement Towards Socialism boycotted the session of the congress, his mass supporters continue to take on the streets their grievances and show of support to the former president.
The interim president must be able to hold a national election by January 2020, but with the current state its people and institutions, it is still hard for us to imagine a free and peaceful Bolivia. The polarization of its people has been going on for decades and have already started to become a norm. People are now divided between pro and anti Morales movement.
In a turmoil like this, the most detrimental act that people might take is to not support the current government and its upcoming election. This will render the success of making Morales resign futile —instead, democracy has been destabilized and the future will remain unpredictable.
The Movement Towards Socialism party released that they intend to send a candidate in the upcoming election. But their candidates won’t include Morales as well as his vice president. They said that they plan to have younger ones. If this continues, the party could be selecting another populist to run for presidency, if their candidate wins through this legitimate election, it is likely that the win goes to Morales and not to democracy. Since he still has an influence on the party, he might have a control on the new leaders.
Now the ruling party should be able to find a decent president who can replace Morales but will have the charm to unite the polarized Bolivia. Even if their candidate win it is still likely that Morales’ supporters will be expressing their opposition to new government specially if the masses feel like the elites are taking over and a new wave of oppression has started.
Morales’ resignation was not solution to save Bolivia’s democracy, but it can be a start of the long process of restoring democracy. The challenge for the interim government now and the people of Bolivia is to get past their polarization and move to protect their democratic institutions.
Photo courtesy of theguardian.com.