Former president says it hurts to leave ‘for political reasons’ as foreign minister confirms he has left for Mexico
Bolivia’s former president Evo Morales has boarded a plane bound for Mexico where he has been granted asylum, the Mexican foreign minister has announced.
Earlier on Monday evening Morales tweeted a farewell after his resignation in the wake of a disputed election, saying that he would be take up the offer of asylum in Mexico but would soon “return with greater strength and energy”.
The Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted a picture of the former leader draped in the flag of Mexico, and said: “The Mexican Air Force plane has already taken off with Evo Morales on board. According to current international conventions, it is under the protection of Mexico. Your life and integrity are safe.”
Morales left behind a country close to chaos as his supporters and adversaries clashed on the streets, and reports of looting, vandalism and arson in the wake of an October election which the Organisation of American States reported to be rigged in his favour.
The police urged La Paz residents to stay indoors and declared they were joining forces with the army to help quell the violence, as Morales’ departure stoked fears of a power vacuum.
Morales said in his tweet: “Sisters and brothers, I leave for Mexico, grateful for the generosity of the government of that kindred people who gave us asylum to defend our lives. It hurts to leave the country for political reasons, but I will remain vigilant. Soon I will return with greater strength and energy.”
A senior US official said that Washington did not consider Morales resignation and departure to constitute a coup. “All these events clearly show is the Bolivian people have simply had enough of a government ignoring the will of its voters,” the official said.