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ARGENTINA | 11-11-2019 15:37

Bolivian official seeks refuge in Argentine Embassy, Faurie rejects coup talk

Argentine Embassy in La Paz providing refuge for a former Morales government official who says he's in personal danger. He has not been granted asylum, officials say.

Former Bolivian government minister Carlos Romeros has sought refuge in the Argentine embassy in La Paz for humanitarian reasons, according to an authoritative government source in Buenos Aires. 

Until Sunday, Romero was a member of former president Evo Morale's Cabinet. Morales resigned Sunday under pressure from the military and violent protests from the opposition. 

"The minister is protected. For now, this is his condition. There is no request for asylum. Argentina is acting according to its tradition of hospitality in moments of personal risk," the source, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP. 

Until now, the Argentine government under Mauricio Macri, which never acknowledged Morales' victory, has differed from many of its Latin American neighbours, as well as incoming president Alberto Fernández, on the course of events in Bolivia.  

"We are all worried about what's happening," Macri said during brief statements to the press before a Cabinet meeting Monday morning. The night prior, his press office issued a statement calling on all "social and political actors" to maintain "peace and social dialogue." 

Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said in a press conference Monday that the events in Bolivia didn't constitute a "coup," and that there would be a "power vacuum" until the legislative body selected someone to lead the transitional government through this "institutional crisis." 

"The Armed Forces haven't taken power. They are simply facilitating dialogue between distinct political forces [...] so that tomorrow the legislative assembly can select who will lead the transition government for the next 90 days," Faurie said. 

President-elect Fernández feels differently. He's called Morales' resignation the result of a "coup" against the State. He also asked Macri to consider providing asylum to Morales and his fellow government officials at the Argentine embassy in La Paz. 

Bolivian opposition forces questioned the legitimacy of Morales' win in last month's presidential elections. 

Following the findings of the Organisation of American States (OAS) that there were, in fact, irregularities at the polls, Morales had called for a new vote. 

The decision wasn't enough to placate the social crisis nor the attacks against governments or party officials, including vandalism of their homes. 

Bolivia's Armed Forces demanded Morales resign, while security forces aided uprisings in certain parts of the country, started by civil opposition groups in the street. 

– AFP/NA

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