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Jeanine Anez of Bolivia, who took power after chaotic elections, was sentenced to 10 years in prison

Former Bolivian interim president Jeanine Anez was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday for charges related to assuming her post in 2019 amid violent protests that led to her resignation and exile of her predecessor, Evo Morales.

Anez was found guilty of nullity and unconstitutionality when she proclaimed herself president in what Morales and his party called a coup.

Anez’s supporters deny it was a coup, saying Morales’ alleged abuse of power sparked a legitimate street uprising. They claimed that the overthrow of the first Indigenous president of Bolivia and his vice president created a power vacuum allowing Anez to assume the interim presidency as the second president of the Senate. . The defense said she would appeal the decision.

“I didn’t raise my finger to be president, but I did what I had to do to pacify a country where Morales had a seizure when he fled,” Anez said from the prison where she is being held. hold.

Contradictory views on the sentence

Morales resigned following nationwide protests over suspicions of vote rigging in the October 20, 2019 election, which he claimed to have won to secure a fourth term in office. Morales has denied fraud. The protests left 37 people dead and forced Morales to seek asylum in Mexico.

His party, known for short as MAS in Spanish, returned to power in the 2020 elections, with Luis Arce as leader, and Morales eventually returned to Bolivia.

Protesters hold placards demanding a severe sentence for Anez outside Miraflores women’s prison in La Paz on Friday. (Juan Karita / The Associated Press)

MAS deputy Juan Jose Jauregui said Anez’s trial set a “historic precedent” against punishment.

However, the controversial case has continued to expose flaws in a deeply divided country and raised concerns about the trial process in Bolivia.

“We are concerned about how this case has been pursued,” said Cesar Munoz, senior fellow for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, in an interview with Reuters before the ruling. And we call on the higher courts to look at how the proceedings are conducted.”

The court also sentenced former armed forces commander Williams Kaliman and former police chief Vladimir Calderon to 10 years in prison. Four other former military leaders received lighter sentences.

Outside the prison where she was being held, about 50 people held posters protesting against Anez.

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