MADRID: Spain on Monday criticised the role of Bolivia’s police and army in the resignation of president Evo Morales following three weeks of violent protests over his disputed re-election.

“This intervention takes us back to moments in the past history of Latin America,” said a foreign ministry statement. 

Spain, Bolivia’s former colonial ruler, also urged “all actors to avoid resorting to violence” and “guarantee the safety of all Bolivians…including former president Morales himself, his relatives and members of his administration”.

The Spanish government said holding fresh elections “as soon as possible” would be the best way “to get out of the current crisis”. 

Morales, who became Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2006, resigned on Sunday after losing the support of the heads of the police and the armed forces.

He gained a controversial fourth term when he was declared the winner of an October 20 presidential election by a narrow margin but the opposition alleged fraud, triggering protests in which three people died and hundreds were injured.

The Organization of American States carried out an audit of the election and on Sunday reported irregularities in just about every aspect that it examined: the technology used, the chain of custody of ballots, the integrity of the count, and statistical projections.

Morales’ Latin American leftist allies in other Latin American nations such as Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua have rallied to denounce what they said was a coup against one of their own. – AFP