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Bolivia's self-proclaimed president appoints cabinet as police attack indigenous protesters

BOLIVIA’s self-proclaimed interim president Jeanine Anez appointed a new cabinet yesterday as supporters of ousted leader Evo Morales clashed with riot police in the streets.

Opposition senator Jeanine Anez claimed to have taken over the presidency on Wednesday, after Mr Morales resigned on Sunday in a bid to avoid more bloodshed from clashes that began after he won re-election on October 20. 

Ms Anez appointed 11 ministers out of a total of 20 to form her cabinet and urged citizens to resume their lives as normal.

She also replaced the commanders-in-chief of all branches of the military to remove any loyal to the democratically elected president.

Riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators waving indigenous flags and trying to march towards the presidential palace in La Paz in protest at Ms Anez’s power grab.

Some demonstrators defended themselves with wooden planks and sheets of metal.

Protester Paulina Luchampe told the Associated Press news agency: “We don’t want any dictators. This lady has stepped on us — that’s why we’re so mad.

“We’re going to fight with our brothers and sisters until Evo Morales is back. We ask for his return. He needs to put the house in order.”

Police also reportedly blocked some pro-Morales members of the Senate from entering the assembly building.

The parliamentarians are continuing to challenge Ms Anez’s legitimacy and boycotted the session of Congress called to formalise her claim to the presidency.

Following the coup, about eight people have died, 508 have been injured and 460 have been detained so far, according to the Bolivian Ombudsman’s Office.

At a news conference in Mexico on Wednesday, Mr Morales said: “If the people ask me, we are willing to return.”

Ms Anez said on Twitter that she has contacted Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and asked him to send an ambassador to La Paz.

The current ambassador reports to President Nicolas Maduro, who has rejected Ms Anez’s claim to the presidency.

In Argentina, both the left and the right in the Senate approved a resolution condemning the coup against Mr Morales.

According to the Bolivian constitution, an interim president has 90 days to organise an election.

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