AFP reports for The Guardian:
Bolivian president fends off corruption claims: ‘We have nothing to hide’
Morales’s opponents have accused him of influence-peddling linked to a Chinese construction firm in which his ex-girlfriend holds a top post and which won multimillion-dollar state contracts.
He told reporters on Thursday he was calling on congress to “organise a legislative commission and if they believe there was influence-peddling let them investigate. We have nothing to hide.”
On Wednesday, Morales asked the state accounting authorities to investigate the process by which the state signed contracts worth $576m with Chinese firm CAMC.
Morales, 56, admitted having a child with Gabriela Zapata, during a two-year relationship that began in 2005 when she was 18. Morales said the child later died. Zapata, now 28, is an executive in CAMC.
Critics accused Morales of using his position to get her the job. Conservative opposition deputy Norma Pierola accused him of “a crime of influence-peddling which affects the state”.
Morales took office on 22 January 2006, becoming Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state after centuries of discrimination.
He has won the past three presidential elections. On 21 February, Bolivians will vote in a referendum on a constitutional reform that could allow Morales to be re-elected until 2025.
He has overseen robust economic growth but opponents accuse him of presiding over corruption and investing in flashy infrastructure projects at the expense of health and education.
He has wasted over $150 billion dollars due to exceptional high international prices on our exports, on the loan forgiveness that started in mid 90s… he inherited all of that without adding anything worthwhile. Just a cheap populist of the so-called “socialism of the 21st century” … Argentina has reversed that mistake, Venezuela and Brazil are about to and it is now Bolivia’s turn to rebuild our nation, we must stop this megalomaniac once and for all!