The Bolivian president orchestrated a “self-coup,” according to his political rival Evo Morales

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Former President Evo Morales on Sunday accused his political ally-turned-rival President Luis Arce of deceiving Bolivians by staging a “self-coup” last week to score political points among voters, marking a sharp downturn in an already fraught relationship.

Morales was initially among the country’s most powerful voices, with nearly 200 military personnel who participated in the election saying They marched toward the Bolivian government palace accompanied by armored vehicles on Wednesday They attempted a “coup.” He called for “the arrest and prosecution of all those involved in these riots.”

But on Sunday, Morales joined others claiming Ars He personally orchestrated the incident in an attempt to gain the sympathy of Bolivians at a time when his popularity was at an all-time low.

Arce “insulted the truth, deceived us, and lied not only to the Bolivian people but to the entire world,” Morales said in a local radio program broadcast on Sunday. Morales also called for an independent investigation into the military action in a post on X.

Morales supports the accusations made by former General Juan José Zuniga, who allegedly led the coup attempt. Zuniga informed his colleagues and family in advance of his plan, Morales said. While in custody, he told authorities that Arce had “betrayed” him..

“The president told me: ‘The situation is very bad, very critical. It is necessary to prepare something to raise my popularity,'” Zuniga quoted Arce as saying.

This theory was soon adopted by Arce’s political enemies, who called it the “self-coup”.

“At some point the truth will be known.” Zuniga He told reporters while Transferred to prison Saturday.

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Morales’ comments later in the night reverberated in neighboring Argentina. The government of right-wing Argentine President Javier Meli declared the coup attempt “fake,” citing intelligence reports and saying that the way things went on Wednesday “is not very credible.”

It’s a major shift since Wednesday, when leaders across the region lined up in solidarity with Ars.

Presidential Minister María Nela Prada responded to Morales on state television on Sunday, warning him against “becoming a puppet, a puppet and an instrument of imperialism that aims to plunder our country.” She said the “fascist right” wanted to “distort history.”

“What I condemn most is that from people like Evo Morales, who claim to be leftists, there are ideological fluctuations about what are coups and failed coups in our country,” she said.

Morales still has a great deal of influence in Bolivia, especially among coca growers and unions, while Arce has faced intense discontent over The country is suffering from an economic crisis.

Arce’s former friend Morales resigned as president in 2019 amid unrest after running for an unconstitutional third term and fleeing into exile, an incident he insists was a coup.

The incident led to conservative Jeanine Áñez briefly assuming the role of interim president, a term plagued by controversy. Áñez is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for illegally assuming the presidency after Morales resigned.

In the 2020 Bolivian elections, Morales declared his support for Arce as the candidate of his Movement for Socialism, known by its Spanish acronym MAS.

But their relationship soured when Morales returned from self-imposed exile and later announced that he intended to run against Arce to be the MAS candidate in the 2025 elections. Their fights became increasingly bitter as Morales’ allies blocked much of Arce’s legislative agenda in Congress.

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“We were politically attacked,” Arce told the Associated Press. In Friday’s interview.But we didn’t attack again.

The dispute has angered many Bolivians, and Morales’ comments on Sunday are unlikely to help calm matters.

Morales said on local radio show “Kausachon Coca” that he felt the incident had damaged Bolivia’s image and its military. He also apologized for expressing solidarity with Arce.

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