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Bolivia's Morales warns of a ‘blow against democracy’ after being banned from upcoming elections

EXILED former Bolivian president Evo Morales warned of a “blow against democracy” after his country’s electoral body blocked him from standing in the 2020 general election on spurious residency grounds.

He had been selected as a candidate for his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, which is leading in the polls for the May election.

But Supreme Electoral Court of Bolivia (TSE) President Salvador Romero announced at a press conference that Mr Morales was not eligible to be a candidate as he failed to meet the permanent residency requirements.

Mr Morales has been living in Argentina, which offered him sanctuary following his overthrow by a US-backed coup last November.

His place was taken on an interim basis by right-wing senator and vice-president Jeanine Anez, an ardent Catholic who declared that “the Bible has returned to the palace” as she took office.

Bolivia’s military and police swung behind her and armed right-wing gangs attacked indigenous communities, tearing down and burning the wiphala, the flag that represents the unity of Bolivia’s tribes.

The latest polls by survey firm Ciesmori put MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce top on 31.6 per cent, with former president Carlos Mesa in second place on 17.1 per cent. Ms Anez is trailing in third place on 16.5 per cent and Luis Camacho is a distant fourth on 9.6 per cent.

Mr Morales warned of an attempt to shut down MAS , which declared itself in a “state of emergency” earlier this week due to undemocratic efforts to “eliminate” its candidates.

“The decision of the Supreme Electoral Court is a blow against democracy. The members of the TSE know that I meet all the requirements to be a candidate. The ultimate goal is the proscription of MAS,” he said.

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