Evo Morales: Ousted Bolivian president vows to return as he takes asylum in Mexico

12 November 2019, 09:14 | Updated: 12 November 2019, 12:18

Evo Morales, the former president of Bolivia, has left for Mexico after being granted political asylum by the country's government.

Mexico's foreign minister confirmed on Twitter Mr Morales had boarded one of its planes, posting a picture of a weary-looking Mr Morales holding a Mexican flag.

Marcelo Ebrard said: "The Mexican Air Force plane has already taken off with Evo Morales on board. According to current international conventions, it is under the protection of Mexico. Your life and integrity are safe."

Mr Morales, who stepped down on Sunday after 14 years in power, said in a tweet it hurt to be leaving Bolivia but vowed: "I'll return soon, with more strength and energy."

After weeks of violent clashes following a disputed election, Mr Morales' government collapsed at the weekend when ruling party allies quit and the army urged him to step down.

Mexico's leftist government, which has supported the socialist, has said it views the events as a "coup" because the army requested the resignation of the president. "That violates the constitutional order of that country," said Mr Ebrard.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador praised Mr Morales for choosing to resign rather than put the lives of Bolivians at risk.

Mr Morales, 60, the country's first indigenous president, boarded the plane late on Monday in the central Bolivian town of Chimore, a stronghold of his supporters where he retreated over the weekend.

The former llama herder and coca leaf farmer was viewed by many as a champion of the poor who brought steady economic growth and enhanced civil rights.

But others saw him as an autocrat who defied a referendum on presidential term limits.

The Organization of American States (OAS) said the result of last month's election should not stand after finding "clear manipulation" of the count and "serious security flaws".

There is little sign of the violence ending as his supporters set fire to barricades to close some roads leading to the country's main airport on Monday.

Opponents blocked most of the streets leading to the capital's main square in front of congress and the presidential palace.

Police urged residents of the capital La Paz to stay in their homes and the army was ordered to back up officers as they tried to restore calm.

At least three people have died and at least 20 have been injured in clashes between protesters and police.