May 26, 2020

Who is responsible for assuming command after resignations in Bolivia?

The response to the power vacuum in which Bolivia has remained after the announced resignation of President Evo Morales, and the authorities that could happen constitutionally, is in the hands of the Legislative Assembly and will have to go through a political agreement.

Morales and his vice president, Álvaro García Linera, announced Sunday afternoon that they were resigning their positions in a video broadcast on the state channel, without the respective letters of resignation being published so far.

The presidents of the Senate, Adriana Salvatierra, and the Chamber of Deputies, Víctor Borda, both officers, and the following in the line of constitutional succession have also resigned.


An antecedent of a similar situation in Bolivia occurred in 2005, when the then president Carlos Mesa resigned beset by social conflicts.

Mesa had assumed the Presidency of the country in 2003 after the resignation of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in the so-called "black October", a social revolt against the government's decision to export Bolivian gas to the United States through a Chilean port.

In the midst of the 2005 crisis, the then presidents of the Senate, Hormando Vaca Díez, and of the Chamber of Deputies, Mario Cossío, resigned from Mesa, as there was no vice president who could assume the replacement of the then ruler .

The head of the Supreme Court of Justice, Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé, assumed the presidency in June of that year to convene in December the first general elections that Evo Morales won.

That figure was allowed in the Constitution that governed until before 2009, but the Magna Carta promulgated that year by Morales does not contemplate it, Constitutionalist lawyer Gonzalo Hidalgo explained to Efe.


Article 169 of the new Bolivian Constitution establishes the same line of succession in the event of the resignation of the president, vice president, of the president of the Senate until that of the lower house.

"In the latter case, new elections will be called within a maximum period of ninety days," said that article.

"In case of temporary absence, the Presidency of the State will assume the position of the Vice President, for a period that may not exceed ninety days," he adds.

For Hidalgo, the most important thing now is to have a constitutional sense, not to get away from the principles established in the Constitution.

Therefore, what must be done now is "wait first for the acceptance of the president's letter of resignation" in the Legislative Assembly, which must be analyzed in a session.

So far there is no known written resignation from Morales or García Linera.


In the absence of the heads of the Senate and of Deputies, the expert considered that the Joint Commission of Constitution of both chambers should call an emergency meeting and "get how they will now point out a management structure of the Legislative Assembly", in absence even of the vice president.

In the Legislative the majority has the party of Morales, the Movement to Socialism (MAS).

The constitutionalist considered it important that in the next few hours a political agreement can be given because, although both houses are without presidents, "if there is a sovereign political representation through the assembly members, they have to make a responsible decision, a constitutional decision."

"The responsibility assumed by politicians in the Legislature will be very important until reaching a consensus and constitutional exit," he added.


At the beginning of the day, Morales had announced new elections, after hours before a report by the Organization of American States (OAS) warned of serious irregularities in the general elections of October 20.

After a series of resignations of parliamentarians and ministers, Morales finally issued a video in which he and García Linera announced their resignation, reiterating their allegations of a "coup d'etat" against them.

In the video, the president considered that the OAS made a "political" and non-technical decision.

When it seemed that the resignation of both could end the crisis unleashed since the suspicion of fraud began the day after the vote, the sectors mobilized against Morales decided to remain on alert, while groups related to the MAS cause anxiety in cities like La Paz and El Alto.

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