- De facto President fires entire cabinet after top minister resigns.
- Communication Minister says Áñez “betrayed people.”
- MAS candidates lead polls for May 3 presidential election.
The “interim President” of Bolivia has asked her entire cabinet to resign hours after her Communication Minister resigned in a scathing letter Sunday.
The Communication Minister in the “interim government” of Jeanine Áñez resigned in response to Áñez’s decision to run for President in the May 3 elections, saying “a group of traditional politicians betrayed the expectations of the people and are plotting an opportunistic project to enjoy power.”
In a scathing letter, Roxana Lizárraga announced her immediate resignation from the “interim government” that came to power in November after ex-President Evo Morales was forced out in a parliamentary-military coup in November.
In the letter, Lizárraga wrote, “It is clear our transitional government has lost its objectives…The fact can’t be hidden that the government has started to fall into the same wrongs as the MAS (Movement to Socialism).”
“We are no longer a transitional or interim government. By becoming President/Candidate, (Áñez) has left to the side the mandate of the people who fought in the streets and has put the government at the service of a group of politicians and a project to extend (the government) that differs very little from the practices of Evo Morales and the MAS.”
Lizárraga was also highly critical of Áñez’s decision to use the state TV channel to announce her presidential candidacy.
Additionally, she criticised the fact that the head of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal was designated by Áñez, saying the “interim Government” is repeating the same “insult” that the MAS did.
This last point by a senior member of the “interim Government” casts even further doubt on the possibility of Bolivia’s upcoming elections being free and fair.
In the wake of the resignation of Lizárraga, Áñez asked her entire cabinet to resign in order to “deal with this new period in the management of the democratic transition.”
The official press release also said that during electoral processes it is “usual” to make “adjustments in the team of the executive.”
It is likely that Áñez decided to fire her cabinet in order to avoid a string of resignations that were potentially coming as a result of her decision to run for president.
WHO WAS ROXANNA LIZÁRRAGA?
As Communication Minister, Lizárraga was one of the most visible members of the Áñez Administration and one of the most extreme supporters of consolidating the coup through violent and authoritarian means.
During her short tenure of less than three months in the position, she repeatedly tried to intimidate critical journalists saying “pseudo-journalists that commit sedition…will have to face the law.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ELECTIONS?
Democratic guarantees for the May 3 presidential elections were already highly dubious under the “interim Government,” which has repeatedly deployed the military and police to repress protesters, and has overseen at least two massacres since coming to power.
After initially uniting behind Áñez as “interim President,” the main leaders of the coup have begun to split as the presidential race heats up with a number of key coup figures announcing their own runs.
Extreme far-right leader from the opposition bastion of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, himself a senior coup figure who appeared alongside Áñez numerous times in the immediate aftermath of Morales’ ouster has also announced his candidacy.
Camacho’s running mate recently called Áñez an “accomplice” of the MAS.
Polls in Bolivia indicate the MAS candidates, who were announced last week by Morales in Argentina, to be the favourites to win.