Bolivia president asks all ministers to resign

Anez assumed the presidency on Nov. 12, two days after Evo Morales resigned following three weeks of sometimes violent protests against his controversial re-election in a poll the Organization of American States said was rigged. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 January 2020

Bolivia president asks all ministers to resign

  • The news Sunday came just hours after communication minister Roxana Lizarraga resigned in protest at Anez’s decision to stand as a presidential candidate in the May 3 election

LA PAZ: Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Anez has asked all her ministers to resign a little more than three months before a general election.

The news Sunday came just hours after communication minister Roxana Lizarraga resigned in protest at Anez’s decision to stand as a presidential candidate in the May 3 election.

Anez assumed the presidency on Nov. 12, two days after Evo Morales resigned following three weeks of sometimes violent protests against his controversial re-election in a poll the Organization of American States said was rigged.

Anez, a little-known senator at the time, had said she had no intention of standing for the full-time job.

But that changed on Friday when she announced her candidacy.

Anez “has decided to ask for the resignation of all ministers to approach this new stage in the management of the democratic transition,” the presidency said in a statement.

The statement added that it was “usual” in an electoral cycle to have “adjustments in the working team of the Executive.”

Anez said she would name a new cabinet of 20 ministers “as soon as possible.”

Hours earlier, Lizarraga, who was appointed by Anez on Nov. 13, criticized the interim president for having “lost sight of her objectives.”

Lizarraga said Anez had “started to fall into the same evils” as the party of her predecessor Morales.

“This is not the path the citizenry has signaled to us,” said Lizarraga.

Anez was criticized for going back on her initial commitment not to run for president.

“I respect President Anez, but I think she’s making a big mistake” because “she has not been appointed to propose herself as a candidate for the presidency,” former president Carlos Mesa, 66, said.

Former presidential candidate Samuel Doria Medina voiced his opposition and ex-president Morales, in exile in Argentina, reminded his successor that “she promised not to be a candidate,” although he said “it is her right.”

There is also still doubt about the legality of Anez contesting the election.

Lawmaker Luis Felipe Dorado said he would consult the Constitutional Court.

Anez came only fourth on 12 percent in an opinion poll published on Sunday that was led by Morales’s Movement for Socialism (MAS) candidate with 26 percent.

MAS headed the survey by Mercados y Muestras and published in the Pagina Siete newspaper, which was conducted before the party had announced the name of its candidate, former economy minister Luis Arce.

“In all the polls we are first,” Morales tweeted in reaction, adding: “We are ready to beat the coup and regain the homeland.”

Parties have until February 3 to register their candidates.


Banned Thai opposition party accuses junta of helping in 1MDB cover-up

Updated 39 min 58 sec ago

Banned Thai opposition party accuses junta of helping in 1MDB cover-up

  • Future Forward Party, the third-largest party in parliament, was dissolved on Friday by Thailand’s Constitutional Court
  • ‘If we were in government, we would investigate’

BANGKOK: A banned Thai opposition party on Sunday accused the former military junta of helping cover up Malaysia’s multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal, urging Thais to demand the truth ahead of a censure debate against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The Future Forward Party, the third-largest party in parliament, was dissolved on Friday by Thailand’s Constitutional Court over a loan it took from its billionaire founder.
The dissolution was decried by democracy advocates as a way to weaken opposition to the government of Prayuth, who first came to power in a 2014 military coup and led a military junta until after elections last year that his pro-army party won.
Future Forward’s spokeswoman, Pannika Wanich, told reporters at a news conference on Sunday that the junta had worked with Malaysia’s former government to arrest a whistleblower in the 1MDB case in 2015 and had allowed financial criminals to operate in Thailand, risking the country’s international ties.
“The junta government yearned for international acceptance after the coup ... and formed a dark alliance with Malaysia,” Pannika said.
“The only person who can issue these orders is Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha,” Pannika said.
Pannika cited irregularities surrounding Thailand’s arrest and the subsequent confession of Xavier Justo, the Swiss national who was arrested in Thailand in 2015 the first whistleblower in the 1MDB affair.
The government also harbored Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, allowing him to enter the country at least five times between October 2016 and May 2018, despite Low having an Interpol red notice from Singapore, she said.
Low has been charged in Malaysia and the United States over the alleged theft of $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), set up by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak with the help of Low, to promote economic development.
At least six countries, including the United States, have launched money laundering, financial mismanagement and criminal probes into 1MDB dealings.
Low has denied any wrongdoing. His whereabouts are unknown.
Future Forward Party said it would have opened an investigation on corruption and money laundering related to the 1MDB case if it were in power.
“If we were in government, we would investigate. We want a government that is a responsible neighbor and acts with dignity,” Pannika said.
“Since we have been dissolved, we can’t, but the Thai public can demand the truth.”
A spokesman for the Malaysian prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.