Bolivia braces for new president as socialists take back power

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Arce, 57, will be sworn in at a ceremony in La Paz, attended by heads of state from Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Spain, as well as senior officials from Chile, Iran and government of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro.

The unpretentious former Minister of the Economy, celebrated as the architect of Bolivia’s rapid growth under Morales, will come to power trying to heal the divisions of a political crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

Tensions remained high, especially over the changes made by the Socialist-controlled Congress to reduce the majority needed to pass new laws and Morales’s planned return from exile to Argentina where he has lived since leaving Bolivia on last year.

Morales, who ruled the country for nearly 14 years as the first indigenous president, sparked a widespread backlash last year when he ran for an unprecedented fourth term in the face of term limits and a national referendum.

After claiming victory in that election, Morales was eventually forced to resign after angry protests, and the police and military eventually abandoned their support for him. He fled the country soon after.

Arce, who has been handpicked by Morales and is a close ally, said the former president would play no role in his government. Morales is expected to return to Bolivia on Monday before heading to his rural stronghold of Chapare.

As Minister of the Economy, Arce encouraged the nationalization of strategic sectors such as hydrocarbons and energy, and pushed domestic production with public investments and subsidies, which helped Bolivia grow in the one of the fastest rates in Latin America.

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