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ARGENTINA | 12-12-2019 11:06

Evo Morales has landed in Argentina seeking asylum, confirms government

Former Bolivian president Evo Morales joins his two children in Argentina. He is coming "to stay" as a refugee, says Foreign Minister Felipe Solá

Former Bolivian president Evo Morales had landed in Argentina, Foreign Minister Felipe Solá confirmed Thursday morning.

He is coming to stay in Buenos Aires, the official said, adding he would be given refugee status by President Alberto Fernández's new government.

Morales "just landed in Ezeiza [international airport]," said Solá,

"He comes to stay in Argentina, because he is seeking asylum and then he will have refugee status," he told the TN news channel.

Evo Morales resigned the Bolivian Presidency on November 10 in the midst of the country's disputed October 20 election. The indigenous leader has been in Mexico since fleeing his nation after protests and a loss of support from the police and military. He then travelled to Cuba for several days.

Solá, who was sworn-in as a minister on Tuesday, said that he had signed paperwork on Wednesday night that began the process of accepting his request for asylum and that Morales would seek refugee status in the coming days.

At around midday, officials at the Interior Ministry confirmed he had already been granted refugee status.

The foreign minister also added that Morales' stay came with conditions, telling La Nación that the "regulations require a series of guidelines, such as a place of residence, etc.."

"We want from Evo the commitment not to make political declarations in Argentina. It is a condition that we ask," he added.

Arrival

The former head of state arrived to Ezeiza from Cuba this morning, accompanied by four other ex-government officials, including his former vice-president Álvaro García Linera, ex-Health Minister Gabriela Montaño, former foreign minister Diego Pary and José Alberto Gonzales, Bolivia's former ambassador to the OAS, according to Solá.

Solá also implied during his comments to TN that the Movement to Socialism (MAS) leader had "requested asylum at the time" of his ousting from power, alleging that former preisdent Mauricio "Macri did not grant it."

Fernández has said he considers Morales' removal from power to have been "a coup d'état."

"A meeting between Morales and President Alberto Fernández [is planned] for Thursday," he added, though he said the two might speak by telephone beforehand. 

Finally, the newly installed foreign minister said that he didn't know where Morales "residence will be located," but said the Bolivian leader was "very appreciative" to be in Buenos Aires.

The former president's children, Eva Liz Morales Alvarado and Alvaro Morales Peredo, have already been living in the capital for two weeks, having arrived November 23.

Argentina Foreign Minister Felipe Solá told the Todo Noticias news channel Thursday that Morales' was "very appreciative" to be in Buenos Aires.

Solá said Argentia's proximity to Bolivia was attractive to Morales.

"He feels better here than in Mexico, which is far away," said the foreign minister

Solá said Morales would have a justified fear for his safety if he stayed in Bolivia. He has been accused of sedition and terrorism by the administration of interim President Jeanine Áńez, who took power amid unrest that has claimed at least 32 lives.

"If we didn't take care of him he'd very quickly be afraid for his life," Solá said.

Former president speaks

Soon after midday, Morales expressed his gratitude to Argentina and Mexico via his Twitter account .

"A month ago I arrived in Mexico, a fraternal country that saved our lives, I was sad and broken. Now I have arrived in Argentina, to continue fighting for the humblest and to unite the Great Homeland, I am strong and lively. I thank Mexico and Argentina for all its support and solidarity, "he wrote.

"My eternal thanks to President @lopezobrador_ [Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador], the people and the Government of Mexico for saving my life and for shelter. I felt at home next to the Mexican sisters and brothers for a month."

Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric said she hoped Argentina would not become a platform for Morales to play a long-distance role in Bolivian politics.

"We hope that Argentina strictly complies with the principles and rules of asylum and refugee rights," she said at a press conference in La Paz. "We don't want to see what happened in Mexico, where he had an open microphone and open forum to do politics, does not re-occur."

The minister said she foresaw "very difficult" relations with Argentina, which did not invite interim right-wing president Jeanine Añez to Tuesday's inauguration.

– TIMES/NA/AP

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