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Bolivia's Evo Morales flies to asylum in Mexico after resigning amid protests

Mexico flew former Bolivian President Evo Morales to Mexico City on Monday after offering him asylum amid what Morales and his supporters call a "coup" and protesters call a restoration of democracy in Bolivia. Morales resigned Sunday after weeks of protests following a controversial election in late October that international observers flagged for irregularities; the final straw was the country's military chief Gen. Williams Kaliman calling on him to step down to restore peace to Bolivia.

With Morales gone and all other officials in the line of succession also tendering their resignations, Bolivia has no clear leader. "It hurts me to leave the country, for political reasons, but I will always be concerned," Morales tweeted. "I will return soon, with more strength and energy." Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard tweeted a photo of Morales on the Mexican Air Force plane, explaining that "according to current international conventions, he is under the protection of Mexico. His life and integrity are safe."

The weeks of massive protests against Morales were sparked by the Oct. 20 election, in which he sought a fourth term despite constitutional term limits and a referendum that upheld those limits; a friendly top court later threw out the restrictions. Morales also declared victory before official results were in, and no results were released for 24 hours. Organization of American States election observers found a "heap of observed irregularities" in the election and called for a new vote. Morales had served since first winning the presidency in 2006, becoming Bolivia's first indigenous president. He leaves a legacy of increased economic equality, a long streak of stability, and accusations of corruption.