Bolivia ex-president Anez says facing arrest in 'coup' probe

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La Paz (AFP)

Bolivia's ex-president Jeanine Anez said Friday she faced arrest over an alleged coup against her predecessor, Evo Morales, amid reports that former ministers were being detained.

Anez tweeted an arrest order she said was issued by the public prosecutor's office, with the response: "The political persecution has begun."

The prosecutor's office has not publicly announced the warrant, which was issued on charges of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy.

But Bolivian television broadcast images of former energy minister Rodrigo Guzman and his justice counterpart Alvaro Coimbra, both listed on the warrant, being detained.

Anez, a former senator, took over as caretaker president after Morales fled Bolivia in November 2019. He had lost the support of the armed forces amid violent protests against his re-election to an unconstitutional fourth term.

Several Morales allies who held senior posts also fled, leaving Anez the most senior Senate official still standing.

- Morales is back -

Morales returned from exile in November last year, and took over the leadership of the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party he founded.

Last month, Bolivia's socialist-dominated congress voted to give amnesty to those prosecuted during conservative president Anez's year-long reign for acts of violence during the chaos that followed Morales' resignation in 2019.

Bolivia's congress is dominated by the MAS, which romped to victory in an October 2020 general election that saw the party's Luis Arce win the presidency.

MAS party member Lidia Patty filed a complaint against Anez last December, claiming she, several of her former ministers, ex-military and police members, and others had promoted the overthrow of Morales, who had been in power for 14 years.

"The MAS has decided to return to the style of dictatorship. It is a shame because Bolivia does not need dictators, it needs freedom and solutions," Anez tweeted Friday.

Coimbra protested the "illegal and abusive" arrest of his former colleague Guzman, before he, too, was brought in.

"We have said that we will always make ourselves available to the law," Coimbra told Bolivian TV as he was placed into a police vehicle.

Anez, a former lawyer, is a longtime critic of leftist Morales.

She is a member of a minority conservative political group, Democratic Unity.

She had sought to cast herself as the only one able to lead the country out of its post-Morales crisis.

Even as she vowed to "pacify the country," Morales at the time branded her "a coup-mongering right-wing senator."

He said Anez had "declared herself... interim president without a legislative quorum, surrounded by a group of accomplices."