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Fears of civil war in Bolivia as US welcomes power grab

SUCRE: Bolivia is teetering on the brink of a civil war following violent protests which forced President Evo Morales to step down in order to avoid bloodshed.

A senator proclaimed herself Bolivia’s interim president Tuesday in an effort to fill the power vacuum, but Morales condemned the move as a “sneaky coup”.

The power grab came just as Morales, who transformed the Andean nation as its first indigenous president, left the country for Mexico with the aim of helping Bolivia recover from weeks of violent protests.

But the events unfolding in the wake of deputy Senate speaker Jeanine Anez proclaiming herself as interim president portended more violence ahead as rival protesters fought on the streets of the capital.

Shortly after Morales left for Mexico where he was granted asylum, he accused opposition leader Carlos Mesa and protest leader Luis Fernando Camacho of staging a coup with the help of police.

His departure came after what is seen by many as a dramatic coup against the one-time llama shepherd from the Bolivian highlands and former coca growers’ union leader.

As president, Morales helped lift millions out of poverty, increased social rights and presided over nearly 14 years of stability and high economic growth in South America’s poorest country.

Bolivia has been experiencing years of political and economic stability and growth under his rule. The economy has grown by an annual average of about 4.5 percent, well above the regional average, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts it will grow at four percent this year.

“It pains me to leave the country for political reasons, but I’ll always be concerned,” Morales said on Twitter Tuesday. “l’ll return soon, with more strength and energy.”

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