Bolivian president asks Congress to approve fresh elections | News | DW | 20.11.2019
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Bolivian president asks Congress to approve fresh elections

Interim leader Jeanine Anez has asked Congress to approve a law for an upcoming ballot "as the entire country is demanding." Deadly protests have been ongoing in Bolivia since a disputed election on October 20.

Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Anez said had asked Congress on Wednesday to approve a law that would allow for new elections.

Lawmakers do not have a fixed deadline to respond to the proposal, but the two chambers of Congress are expected to debate the bill on Thursday and, if more time is needed, possibly Friday. 

If the bill is approved, the election date would be set by the new Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Bolivia's constitution says elections must be called within three months of an interim president taking office. Anez has been interim leader since November 12. 

The South American country has been in a state of flux since a much disputed election took place one month ago, amid suggestions of a rigged vote.

Read more: Bolivia crisis: 5 things to know

Civil unrest followed, on both sides of the political spectrum, and this increased in the wake of  former President Evo Morales' resignation earlier this month. His supporters saw it as a coup, with many venting their anger on the streets.

"God willing, today, in the morning, we will call elections as the entire country is demanding," interim president Anez told reporters earlier on Wednesday.

Anez steps in, aims to pacify with a new ballot

Anez, the 52-year-old former deputy speaker of the Senate, declared herself the country's short-term president last week, filling a vacuum after Morales fled to Mexico.     

Bolivian lawmakers are now meeting to try and agree a path to the fresh ballot that Anez has promised in an attempt to defuse the deadly violence. So far the month long unrest has resulted in 30 deaths.

"We have developed a basic bill. It can probably be corrected, agreed upon, enriched by all the sectors that are involved with the aim of pacifying the country and choosing our rulers," Anez said. "But there will be elections in the country, we guarantee it."

Read more: Opinion: Evo Morales' time is up in Bolivia

Watch video 01:48

Morales: Exile in Mexico

Morales accused of whipping up protests

Meanwhile, Bolivia's Interior Minister Arturo Murillo played a recorded telephone call to reporters, allegedly of Morales issuing orders to a leader of the opposition movement.

"Don't let food into the cities, we're going to block, really encircle (the cities)," says the voice Murillo attributed to Morales.

The audio has not been independently verified. 

Murillo told journalists the alleged call amounted to a "crime against humanity" and said Morales' attempts were an act of "terrorism."

"In the coming hours we will file an international lawsuit on this," Murillo added.

Watch video 02:25

Marching for Morales: The Red Ponchos

ed, jsi/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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