Former Bolivian President, Morales seeks refugee status in Argentina

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Bolivian ex-President Evo Morales arrived Argentina on Thursday where he will be granted refugee status, Argentine Foreign Minister Felipe Sola said.

Morales was granted asylum to travel to Argentina and had made the request for refugee status to stay, Sola said on news channel TN. Four other people had also requested asylum, Sola said.

Morales had previously been in Mexico where he was granted asylum after his resignation in the wake of a disputed election which the Organisation of American States (OAS) says was rigged in his favour.

Morales, an iconic socialist leader in Latin America, who had been in power for nearly 14 years, thanked Argentina and Mexico for their “support and solidarity” in a tweet after arriving in Argentina.

“My eternal thanks to President (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador) and the government of Mexico for saving my life and for sheltering me. I felt at home with Mexican sisters and brothers for a month,” Morales said in the tweet.

Morales resigned as president on Nov. 10 after the OAS declared there were serious irregularities during the Oct. 20 election, prompting political allies to quit and the army to urge him to step down.

The arrival of Morales comes just two days after Argentine centre-left President Alberto Fernandez was inaugurated.

Fernandez said there had been a “coup” against Morales when he resigned. He offered in November to grant Morales asylum in Argentina after he began his term.

Sola said the government wanted a commitment from Morales to not make political statements while in Argentina.

There was no meeting planned between Morales and Fernandez, but they could talk on the phone, Sola said.

Morales, who was Bolivia’s first indigenous president, insisted on seeking a fourth term in office, in defiance of term limits and a 2016 referendum in which Bolivians voted against him being allowed to do that.

After he resigned, interim President Jeanine Anez was appointed.

Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric said in La Paz on Thursday that she hoped Argentina would restrict Morales from making political statements.

“We hope that Argentina rigorously complies with the principles and rules of the right of asylum and the right of refuge and that what happened in Mexico – that had an open microphone, an open arena for policy making – does not occur,” Longaric said.

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