By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Bolivia's former leader Evo Morales accused the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal of being "afraid of democracy" after he was barred from running for Senate in an oncoming May election on the grounds that he did not meet residency requirements.
“They have overruled my Senate candidacy; they do not respect the electoral law. It is not only Evo’s inability, it is a blow to democracy. They are afraid of democracy,” said Morales in a press conference held with his lawyers Gustavo Ferreyra and Eugenio Zaffaroni in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Friday.
Morales claimed the court decision is part of a plot of the Bolivian interim government after his presidential candidacy was overruled amidst strong protests over his disputed victory on Oct. 20 elections, when external observers noted irregularities in the vote count.
"Last year we won the first round of the election. The real fraud was the OAS report, while agencies and universities said there was no fraud," said Morales, whose lawyers advised him to request “precautionary measures before the inter-American Human Rights System” and appeal the decision disqualifying his candidacy.
The indigenous leader's resignation in November paved the way for right-wing senator and vice-president Jeanine Anez to declare herself interim president. Anez has since begun to reverse many of Morales` policies including expelling Venezuelan diplomats from the country and seeking closer ties with the U.S.
Morales has repeatedly accused the Anez government of “destroying” the economic and social welfare policies he put in place during his nearly 14 years as president.
During the press conference, Morales also accused the U.S. of influencing the Bolivian Supreme Electoral Tribunal's decision.
“As per instruction of the U.S. embassy they did not approve the legality,” he said.
Hours after the electoral body announced its decision to block the ousted ex-president, Morales called the decision a "blow to democracy".
“The decision of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is a blow against democracy. The members of the TSE know that I meet all the requirements to be a candidate. Their ultimate goal is the proscription of MAS,” he tweeted Thursday night.
Morales had been selected as a candidate for the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, which is leading in the polls for the May election.