efe-epaLa Paz

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera on Thursday denied that the government is persecuting its political opponents, as was claimed by two former presidents and other opposition figures, and he expressed the opinion that they are forming a new "rightist" bloc to challenge President Evo Morales.

Garcia spoke at a press conference responding to the manifesto released Wednesday by former Presidents Jorge Quiroga (2001-2002) and Carlos Mesa (2003-2005), ex-Vice President Victor Hugo Cardenas (1993-1997), Santa Cruz provincial Gov. Ruben Costas, La Paz Mayor Luis Revilla and National Unity Party chief Samuel Doria Medina.

The vice president said that some of the politicians who expressed themselves on Wednesday are facing legal proceedings "for poorly using public resources, for having gone against the Constitution, for having violated the law, for not paying taxes, for delivering public items to private (individuals) without authorization," adding that "they are not little angels."

"They say that politics has been (brought into the realm of the judiciary) when at the root of things are acts with indications of corruption, economic harm to the state," Garcia said in response to the opposition politicians' claims.

The opposition figures complained that the legal proceedings they are facing are designed to make them ineligible from running in the 2019 elections and have asked that the result of the 2016 constitutional referendum preventing Morales from seeking reelection in two years be respected.

The vice president said that the statement issued by the opposition figures "is a document filled with lies and political hypocrisies," adding that in the 2016 referendum the public had voted after being deceived by a "lie" pushed by the opposition.

In their statement, the opposition politicians also accused the government of having "broken the boundaries of the independence" between the branches of government and transforming the judicial branch "into an instrument of political persecution" against government adversaries, whom it considers to be "enemies."

In addition, they questioned the failure of the judiciary and urged that an "independent commission" from society at large evaluate the candidates for justices to be elected this year.