Mexico says Bolivia suffered coup due to military pressure on Morales

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s government views the resignation of Bolivia’s president as a coup because the Bolivian military had broken with the constitution by pressing him to stand down, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday.

A man looks at the remains of buses burned during a protest after Bolivia's President Evo Morales announced on Sunday that he was resigning, in La Paz, Bolivia November 11, 2019.

“It’s a coup because the army requested the resignation of the president, and that violates the constitutional order of that country,” Ebrard told reporters at regular government news conference.

The minister was speaking after Evo Morales, a leftist who has been Bolivia’s president since 2006, said on Sunday he would step down under pressure from anger over his disputed re-election last month.

Speaking alongside President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a veteran of Latin America’s left, Ebrard said Mexico would not accept a government of “military character” in Bolivia.

Mexico would continue to recognize Morales as the legitimate president until his term ends in January 2020, Ebrard said.

Calling the events in Bolivia “a step backwards for the entire region”, Ebrard said the conflict should be resolved by pacific and democratic means, and called on the Organization of American States to meet and express a view on the matter.

Before his resignation, Mexico had applauded Morales’ decision to call for new elections in Bolivia. Mexico later said it would offer him asylum if he requested it. So far, Ebrard said, Mexico had not received an answer from Morales.

Once Ebrard had finished speaking, Lopez Obrador said he agreed with what the foreign minister had said about Bolivia, and praised Morales for choosing to step down as president rather than put the lives of his fellow citizens at risk.

Due to a series of military juntas that toppled left-wing governments in Latin America during the 20th century, the region’s leftists are highly sensitive to any signs of military meddling in political affairs.

Lopez Obrador, the first leftist president in Mexico in decades, recently responded to a general who criticized his government by saying his supporters “will not permit” a coup.

Reporting by Dave Graham, Miguel Gutierrez and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis