Bolivia’s former leader Evo Morales landed in Mexico on Tuesday pledging to keep up his political “fight”, as security forces back home quelled unrest over the leftist’s resignation and the country sought an interim replacement to fill a power vacuum.
Morales thanked Mexico for “saving his life” as he arrived to take up asylum in the country and repeated his accusation that his rivals had ousted him in a coup after violence broke out following a disputed election last month.
“As long as I am alive, we will remain in politics. As long as I am alive, the fight continues,” Morales told reporters after disembarking the plane, dressed in a blue short-sleeved shirt. He was met by Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.
Morales has then whisked away in a military helicopter, television footage showed. Mexican officials have not said where he will stay, citing security concerns.
In Bolivia’s capital La Paz, meanwhile, politicians and civic leaders scrambled to restore order after weeks of protests that finally brought down Morales, the last of a wave of Latin American leftist leaders who dominated the region’s politics at the start of the century.
His resignation came after the Organization of American States (OAS) declared there were serious irregularities during the Oct. 20 vote, prompting political allies to quit and the army to urge him to step down.
Street clashes, looting and roadblocks have roiled the poor South American nation since the election, and there have been more flare-ups since he resigned. Video footage on Tuesday showed police battling Morales supporters in the city of Cochabamba.
“We are emerging from one of the darkest episodes of our democratic history,” said Jeanine Anez, an opposition senator theoretically in line to take over as interim leader.
“I ask that from now on we join forces and our hands to help rebuild democracy and the rule of law.”
Lawmakers across the political divide were called to attend a meeting of Bolivia’s Legislative Assembly to formally accept Morales’ resignation and plan for next steps. Still, many with Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party stayed away.
Residents of La Paz said they hoped politicians would finally restore order to the highland capital, which has been rocked since the election by protests and looting. A union leader threatened a general strike if politicians fail to solve the impasse.
“Democracy has been at risk and hopefully it will be resolved today,” said resident Isabel Nadia.