Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Questions (56)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

56. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed with his counterparts in Europe the ongoing uprising in Bolivia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53383/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Since the outbreak of violence that followed the 20th October general elections, officials in my Department have been in regular contact with EU colleagues to discuss the ongoing situation in Bolivia.

A preliminary report of the general elections issued by the Organisation of American States (OAS) had found irregularities in the electoral process. In its final report published on 4 December, the OAS stated that there was intentional manipulation and serious irregularities in the electoral process, making it impossible to validate the results.

The elections were followed by weeks of mass protests and reports of violence across Bolivia. I supported numerous EU statements over those weeks calling for an end to violence, peaceful negotiations and a credible electoral process. Since the departure of former President Morales to Mexico on 12 November, an interim Government headed by Jeanine Áñez has taken up office to allow for the holding of fresh elections.

At the FAC meeting on 9 December, the EU's High Representative Josep Borrell briefed Ministers on recent developments, as well as on the EU’s ongoing work locally with the Catholic Church and UN in mediating political discussion between the Bolivian parties. We also discussed the possibility of sending an electoral observation mission to monitor the new elections in Bolivia, which are likely to be held in March or April 2020.

The alleged abuses of human rights in Bolivia and excessive use of force by authorities against protestors is a matter of concern to me. Ireland supported the EU statement made on 15 November calling on the Bolivian law enforcement bodies to guarantee security for the Bolivian people while respecting human rights at all times.

My Department will continue to work with our EU colleagues to support Bolivia on a path towards stability and credible elections. Officials in my Department maintain regular contact with EU Missions on the ground in Bolivia, through our Embassy in Buenos Aires which is accredited to Bolivia, and will continue to monitor the situation.