Bolivia’s president Evo Morales has stepped down after weeks of anti-government protests calling for his removal. His government was elected last month, but since that time his victory has been called into question. So who exactly is he and what caused him to step down as president?
Evo Morales is a Bolivian politician who served as the 80th President of Bolivia from 2006 to 2019.
He was regarded as the country’s first president to come from the indigenous population and his policies focused on the implementation of leftist policies.
Mr Morales has suffered weeks of anti-government protests amid deeping tensions in the country over allegations of electoral fraud.
The Organization of American States (OAS), the body which monitors elections, discovered “clear manipulation” at the polls.
Concerns were first raised after a day-long gap in reporting of the results from the October 20 election.
This gap and results report found a spike in the vote for Mr Morales, which further raised suspicions.
In his TV appeal today, the military chief General Williams Kaliman said: “After analysing the situation of internal conflict, we ask the president to resign, allowing peace to be restored and stability to be maintained for the good of our Bolivia.”
He further urged Bolivias against resorting to violence.
The European Union, USA, Brazil and the United Nations supported the protesters concerns, saying each was worried about the process.
With 99.99 percent of votes ounted in late October, Morales had 47.07 percent to 36.51 percent for former President Carlos Mesa, who finished second in the nine-candidate field, according to AP.
These results gave Morales a 10.56-point lead, a little more than a half point over the threshold he needed to win an outright victory and avoid a second-round ballot in December probably against a united opposition.
Since claims of electoral fraud arose, protesters have been out en masse calling for Mr Morales to step down.
Mobs torched electoral offices in Sucre and Potosi days after the election, while rival supporters clashed in the capital La Paz.
Who is Evo Morales?
Evo Morales, 60, was born to an Aymara family of subsistence farmers in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton.
He undertook a basic education before he taking on mandatory military service.
Mr Morales rose to prominence as a trade unionist whilst growing coca and in this capacity he campaigned against American and Bolivian attempts to eradicate coca as part of the war on drugs.
The activist entered electoral politics in 1995 and became the leader of the MAS, before he was elected to Congress in 1997.
In 2002, Mr Morales was expelled from Congress for encouraging anti-government protesters, even though he had come second in that year’s presidential election.
He was elected as president in 2005 and later increased taxation on the hydrocarbon industry to bolster social spending, emphasising projects to combat illiteracy, poverty, racism and sexism.
Throughout his tenure as president, he was praised for significantly reducing poverty and illiteracy in Bolivia and has been internationally decorated with various awards.
His supporters have lauded him as a champion of indigenous rights, anti-imperialism, and environmentalism.
A number of leftist, indigenous, and environmentalist critics have accused him of failing to live up to many of his espoused values, while right-wing opponents have accused him of being excessively radical and authoritarian and claimed that his defence of coca contributes to illegal cocaine production.