Jeanine Anez, Bolivia’s interim president, has abandoned the presidential election due on September 18. She declared herself as president in November 2019 after former President Evo Morales fled the country. Anez said she is pulling out of the presidential race to block the possible return of Morales as the country’s president.
However, a presidential poll conducted by Jubilee Foundation which is a popular Bolivian civil rights group showed that Anez is in the fourth position and behind three others in the presidential race. Former economy minister Luis Arce was in the number one position with a 40% chance of winning the presidential election while Anez had a 10% chance of winning.
If it turns out that Arce wins the election, Morales’s Movement to Socialism party will return to power, and Morales will return from exile in Argentina to lead the party again and possibly become president. But with her stepping down from the race, there are two conservative candidates against Arce’s candidacy – making two against one – and weakening Arce’s chances to win and Morales’s chances to return to the country.
“Today I put aside my candidacy for the presidency of Bolivia, for the sake of democracy,” Anez had announced. “I’m doing this because of a risk that the vote gets divided between various candidates. It’s not a sacrifice, it’s an honor. If we don’t unit, Morales will return. If we don’t unite, democracy loses.”
Since Anez became interim leader of Bolivia, she had not been too popular among the people and several voices within the country express strong dissents with her leadership. Following the undecided election results that made Morales flee the country, Anez who was a retiring senator and a junior lawmaker declared herself the interim president and promised to serve as the leader and arrange for another election before stepping down.
But she failed to step down as promised and began instead to hunt the former president’s loyalists and to introduce local and foreign policies that people found unacceptable. Even human rights groups condemned the trial under which Morales was charged with terrorism before he fled the country. Her leadership policies ramped up the opposition against her and she soon found herself in direct conflict with Bolivia’s indigenous majority.
Meanwhile, the current coronavirus situation also weakened her position since millions of protesters barricaded the roads and demanded general elections, blaming Anez for the manner in which the pandemic is poorly managed. Most of the demonstrators were Morales’s supporters and they further crippled the country’s wobbling economy with their antagonisms.