Bolivia ex-president Jeanine Anez arrested

President Jeanine Anez

Bolivia’s former interim President Jeanine Anez has been arrested over the 2019 political crisis that saw her replace predecessor Evo Morales, reigniting tensions in the South American nation.

Anez, who helmed Bolivia for less than a year after former President Evo Morales left office following contested elections and violent protests, was arrested in a dawn raid on her home in the central city of Trinidad and transferred to La Paz by military plane.

She said her detention was “irregular” and as a former president should have immunity from prosecution.

“It is an absolute outrage, they are accusing us of being accomplices of an alleged coup,” she told local television after arriving at La Paz airport under heavy police escort.

“There is not a grain of truth in the accusations, it is simple political intimidation. There was no coup, I took part in a constitutional succession.”

The move marks an escalation of hostilities between the current leftist administration of Morales’ political ally and successor President Luis Arce and more conservative political opponents they accuse of ousting Morales.

Bolivia’s socialist government, which swept back to power in October last year, is seeking the arrest of a raft of officials in Anez’s right-wing former administration as well as ex-police and military leaders.

Anez took power in late 2019 after Morales resigned amid widespread violent protests against his government over allegations he had stolen an election when running for an unprecedented – and unconstitutional – fourth term.

At least 33 people were killed in violence that followed the election, 30 of them after Anez took office.

Government Minister Eduardo del Castillo confirmed on Saturday that the Public Prosecutor’s Office had detained Anez for involvement in a “coup in our country”.

He said the investigation against her and her ministers began in December and would follow due process. He also confirmed the arrest of Anez’s former Justice Minister Álvaro Coimbra and former Energy Minister Rodrigo Guzmán.