Exiled Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales accused of rape

Ousted Bolivian president Evo Morales has been accused of statutory rape and human trafficking by the country’s justice ministry.

It comes after photographs were published in national media of the 60-year-old ex-leader with a young woman who was reportedly a minor at the time.

An alleged relationship between Mr Morales and a 19-year-old woman identified only as N.M began when she was a minor.

Deputy justice minister, Guido Melgar, told a press conference in La Paz yesterday that his department had filed a criminal complaint against Mr Morales, 60, over his alleged sexual relationship with a minor.

"The curious thing here is that she was a minor at the time and as we all know, for a minor to travel, she needed her parents' permission," he said.

She was 14 when she allegedly began to accompany the president on trips, reports Spanish news agency EFE.

Under Bolivian law, the crime of rape is punishable with between two and six years in prison, and human trafficking with 15 years.

Mr Morales was president from 2006-2019 and lives in exile in Argentina after a disputed election in November.

Morales stepped down following large protests contesting last year's election results, and a right-wing interim government took charge.

It is reported that extreme poverty dropped from 38% in 2006 to 17% in 2018 while he was in office, but critics said levels rose again in his final two years.

He was one of Latin America's longest serving leaders with almost 14 years as president of Bolivia.