By Luis Andrés Henao and Juan Karita
SACABA, Bolivia (AP) — A U.N. envoy met with Bolivia’s interim president Saturday to find a way out of the country’s political crisis while the world body expressed concern the situation could “spin out of control” amid a rising death toll.
On leaving the meeting with interim leader Jeanine Áñez, envoy Jean Arnault said the United Nations hopes it can contribute to an “accelerated pacification process” leading to new elections following the resignation and exile of Evo Morales.
Meanwhile, another international body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, condemned Áñez’s government for issuing a decree it says “exempts from criminal responsibility” soldiers who took part in efforts to break up protests and unrest that have left at least 23 people dead.
The norm was approved before the most violent day since the crisis began, when at least eight pro-Morales coca growers were killed when security forces opened fire during a demonstration.
“It is not a license for the Armed Forces to kill,” Presidency Minister Jerjes Justiniano told a press conference. He said the decree is based on the Criminal Code, which states that “if one defends oneself in self-defense, there is no penalty.”
Earlier Saturday, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet issued a statement calling the deaths “an extremely dangerous development.”