Bolivia's former president Evo Morales accepts political asylum in Mexico

People block a street near the main square in La Paz after Evo Morales resigned as president

Mexico said Monday it has granted asylum to Bolivia's Evo Morales, after the leftist president's resignation left the South American nation reeling amid a power vacuum.

Morales was the nation's first indigenous president, a left-wing populist who first took office in 2006; almost 14 years later, his presidency has been broadly acknowledged, even by capitalists, as being hugely successful in growing the nation's economy and drastically reducing inequality and poverty.

"We will immediately proceed to inform Bolivia's foreign ministry that under global law, it should offer safe conduct" to Morales, Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters on Monday.

Morales wrote on Twitter that he had left for Mexico and was grateful to have been granted asylum.

The Mexican government's support has helped cement its emerging role as a bastion of diplomatic support for left-wing leaders in Latin America.

Mexico says the decision was taken for "humanitarian reasons" following Mr Morales' personal request.

Ebrard did not answer journalists' questions on whether Morales would travel to Mexico, and if so when he would arrive.

Morales resigned on Sunday after leading Bolivia for more than a decade, following what many have described as a military coup in the country.

"What happened yesterday is a step back for the whole continent", Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said.

Bolivia's armed forces will join police in operations on the streets of the capital La Paz following President Evo Morales' resignation.

Morales stepped down Sunday following weeks of widespread protests fed by allegations of electoral fraud in the October 20 presidential election that he claimed to have won.

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His almost 14-year presidency abruptly ended Sunday, hours after he had accepted calls for a new election by an Organization of American States team that found a "heap of observed irregularities" in the October 20 election whose official result showed Morales getting just enough votes to avoid a runoff against a united opposition. Military fighter jets flew repeatedly over La Paz in a show of force that infuriated Morales loyalists who were blocked by police and soldiers from marching to the main square. Police in the city encourages residents to attack protesters with sticks and other weapons if warranted. "There are recurring demonstrations, strikes, roadblocks, and marches in major cities".

"It's very worrying. There was a lot of fear and panic last night".

Instead, Anez declared herself interim president when the session failed to reach a quorum of lawmakers, many staying away amid blockades and continuing protests by Morales supporters. Pompeo also echoed OAS' call for new elections, a demand Morales accepted shortly before he was forced aside.

The 52-year-old Jeanine Añez took temporary control of the Senate late Tuesday, putting her next in line for the presidency.

Mr Morales's resignation still needs to be approved by the Legislative Assembly, convened by both chambers of Congress. This is driven both by the desire of U.S. transnationals to lay unfettered claim on Latin America's resources and markets-not least Bolivia's vast energy and mineral reserves, including 70 percent of the world's lithium-and by the strategic confrontation between USA imperialism and China, whose trade with the region rose to $306 billon past year.

In a sharp change of tone later in the evening he called on his "people" to be peaceful.

"It's so hard to see Bolivians clashing, no matter which side they're on. I make an urgent call to resolve any differences with dialogue and consultation", he said.

But even many backers eventually grew wary of his reluctance to leave power.

In Venezuela, opponents of Morales ally Nicolas Maduro also hailed the fall of the Bolivian leader, whom they call a dictator, saying they hoped Maduro would be next. The Assembly said it planned to meet at 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Tuesday, though with clashes gripping the city it was not yet clear if it would go ahead.

In October, he ran for a fourth term and won a heavily scrutinized re-election with a plurality of the vote; because Morales's margin of victory was over 10 points larger than that of Carlos Mesa, the runner-up - thus avoiding a December runoff - the nation's elections board confirmed Morales as the victor of a fourth term.

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