Nov. 12 (UPI) — Former Bolivian President Evo Morales said Monday that he is leaving for Mexico after the country accepted his request for asylum.
Morales made the announcement via Twitter, saying that he is “grateful” to Mexico for opening its doors to “protect our life.”
“It hurts to leave the country for political reasons, but I will always be concerned,” he said. “I will return soon, with more strength and energy.”
The announcement follows Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, accepting Morales’ request for asylum “for humanitarian reasons and because of the emergency situation that he faces in Bolivia,” the ministry said in a statement.
Ebrard granted Morales asylum earlier Monday and informed Bolivia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the decision to ensure that it adheres to international laws concerning Morales’ departure from the country.
“The decision of the Mexican government has been communicated to the Organization of American States and will be made known to the United Nations, invoking international protection for the life and safety of Evo Morales,” the ministry said.
Morales, 60, resigned Sunday following mass protests that erupted over irregularities concerning his re-election on Oct. 20.
He said he regretted the decision “deeply” but was stepping down “for the good of the country.”
His resignation was followed by several other politicians, leaving a power vacuum in the country.
U.S. State Department officials said they expect an interim leader to be named and sworn in Tuesday, which they said should help stabilize the situation.
During a briefing on the situation, the officials said Morales’ successor will then have 90 days to organize elections.
“So, if the interim president can be sworn in very quickly, that would help the public order, and there would be no constitutional break,” a state official said.
President Donald Trump cheered Morales’s resignation as a “significant moment” for democracy.
“After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’ departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard,” Trump said in a statement. “The United States applauds the Bolivian people for demanding freedom and the Bolivian military for abiding by its oath to protect not just a single person, but Bolivia’s constitution.”