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Bolivia: Former President Anez handed 10-year prison term

June 11, 2022

Anez was convicted for "decisions contrary to the constitution" and "of derelicition of duty," according to a Bolivian court. She defended her actions following the resignation of predecessor Evo Morales.

Former Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez
Anez has been accused of serious human rights violations during her tenure as interim presidentImage: Jorge Bernal/AFP

A Bolivian court on Friday found former President Jeanine Anez guilty of mounting a coup in 2019.

Anez was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The 54-year-old has been convicted of making "decisions contrary to the constitution" and "of dereliction of duty."

Prosecutors said Anez violated norms that guaranteed the constitutional and democratic order after Bolivia's 2019 presidential elections.

Anez, then the most senior member of the country's parliament, ascended to the presidency after President Evo Morales resigned in 2019. 

Morales, who ruled Bolivia for nearly 14 years by then, resigned after the military called on him to go following a disputed election result in October 2019.

Anez detained since 2021

Anez, who has been detained since March 2021 on initial charges of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy, was not allowed to attend the trial in person.

She followed the hearing from prison.

"I didn't lift a finger to become president, but I did what I had to do," Anez said in her final statement to the judge. 

Bolivia's former interim President Jeanine Anez waves from a window of Miraflores women's jail to her supporters protesting for her release in La Paz, Bolivia, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.
President Jeanine Anez waves to her supporters from jail, August 2021Image: Juan Karita/AP Photo/picture alliance

"I assumed the presidency out of obligation, according to what is established in the constitution," Anez added.

Experts have raised concerns about the trial turning into a game of political score-settling between rival parties, with Cesar Munoz, a senior researcher at the Human Rights Watch saying they "were concerned about how this case has been pursued." 

Munoz added that they "call on superior courts to examine how the processings were conducted."

Bolivia's political crisis of 2019

Large demonstrations rocked Bolivia in 2019 after protesters accused socialist leader Evo Morales of rigging elections to secure a fourth term, in defiance of term limits.

Morales, on the other hand, leveled criticism against a "civic coup" that led to his resignation in November 2019, just after the presidential election of October 2019.

Anez, a conservative and then vice president of the Senate, took power two days after Morales resigned, based on the constitutional line of succession.

Morales's leftist party, Movement for Socialism (MAS), boycotted the naming of Anez, with Morales fleeing to Mexico for safety.

Anez said her goal was to help the country hold new and transparent elections and that she would not run for president, angering people when she announced her bid in January 2020.

Anez also drew widespread criticism for protests that followed immediately after she took power, where 20 supporters of Morales were killed. The OAS accused Bolivian security forces of carrying out a massacre during the social unrest. 

Morales' MAS party, which returned to power in 2020, then accused Anez of playing a key role in what it claimed was a coup against Morales.

jsi, rm/wd (AFP, Reuters)