Senate vice-president and conservative Jeanine Anez, 52, had assumed the interim role on Tuesday after Morales fled Bolivia after his 14-year socialist rule ended in violent protests and recriminations.
Morales resigned on Sunday on the back of rising pressure over accusations of vote rigging in last month’s election. But he struck a defiant tone from Mexico where he is seeking asylum.
“If my people ask, we’re ready to go back. We’ll return sooner or later... to pacify Bolivia,” he said at a news conference in Mexico City.
Anez faces an immediate challenge from lawmakers from Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, who hold a majority in parliament and have threatened to hold a rival session to nullify her appointment.
On Wednesday, television showed large numbers of police around the central Plaza Murillo. They appeared to prevent MAS lawmaker Adriana Salvatierra, who has resigned as head of the Senate, from entering the government building.
Thousands of Morales supporters marched into La Paz from nearby El Alto, many carrying the colorful flags of regional indigenous groups. Many previously marginalized indigenous groups have seen their power and affluence rise significantly under Morales, a former coca grower who was the country’s first indigenous president.
Anez “does not represent the people, but the big elites, the society that has money but does not represent the poor,” said Ruth Moscoso, selling bread in La Paz.
But others in the city cheered Anez taking over the interim role and hoped it would bring stability after weeks of protests.
“It seems she is going to act in a fair way and will get us out of this mess,” said Jose Clarens on his way to shop at a local market.
At the government palace, Anez said she planned to call elections “in the shortest possible time.”
“I now call for a peaceful and democratic transition, revoking the conditions that had made us into a totalitarian country,” she said.
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