Evo Morales, president of Bolivia for 13 years, has resigned in the wake of his disputed re-election in October.
The leftist Morales’s decision to run defy term limits and run for a fourth consecutive term caused many in the Bolivian opposition to accuse him of acting like a dictator.
Unrest in La Paz, the capital, worsened on Sunday following a report from the Organisation of American States (OAS) which found “clear manipulations” of the voting system and called for the election be rerun.
Morales, the country’s first indigenous leader, defended himself and emphasised the influence of the US on the Bolivian opposition.
Shortly afterwards, however, he was forced to accept that his tenure was over, and resigned alongside his cabinet and vice-president.
Although accused of ignoring a referendum in 2016 and of electoral fraud in this most recent election, Morales had been hailed by many as a leader who healed the country’s post-colonial ethnic divide, halved poverty rates and quadrupled Bolivia’s GDP through increased gas and mineral exports.
The US State Department reacted to the resignation stating: “We call on everyone to refrain from violence during this tense time and we will continue to work with our international partners to ensure that Bolivia’s democracy and constitutional order endure.”
The political situation is now uncertain. Under Bolivia’s constitution, the head of the Senate should take over, but Adriana Salvatierra also stepped down on Sunday.
Legislators are expected to meet to agree on an interim commission or legislator to take temporary control, one constitutional lawyer told Reuters.