Bolivia's caretaker government has filed a complaint accusing Evo Morales of "sedition and terrorism" after the ex-president allegedly called on supporters to maintain blockades in the crisis-hit country.
Interior Minister Arturo Murillo referred the case to federal prosecutors in Bolivia, which has been choked by road blocks for weeks, causing food and fuel shortages in the seat of government.
In a separate announcement last night, the interim government said it would hold talks with protest groups today in the hope of striking an agreement "to pacify the country" and end its worst political crisis in 16 years.
"We are seeking the maximum penalty for sedition and terrorism," Mr Murillo told reporters after launching legal action against Mr Morales.
Mr Murillo also accused Mr Morales' former top minister Juan Ramon Quintana, whose whereabouts are unknown, of the same crimes.
If Mr Morales, who fled to Mexico after resigning on 10 November, were charged and convicted, he would face a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail.
The legal action against Bolivia's first indigenous president comes as Congress debates when to hold new elections seen as crucial to quelling weeks of unrest that erupted after the disputed 20 October ballot.
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Mr Morales, who had been seeking a fourth term, claimed he won the vote, but opposition groups said it was rigged.
A poll audit by the US-based Organisation of American States found irregularities in the results.
At least 32 people have been killed since the election, including 17 in clashes with security forces as anti-government protesters block main roads.
Mr Morales has accused Bolivian security forces of engaging in "genocide" against his indigenous supporters, and called for action by the international community.
The legal action comes after Mr Murillo played a telephone recording to journalists on Wednesday, allegedly of Mr Morales issuing instructions to a leader of the opposition movement in Bolivia.
"Don't let food into the cities, we're going to block, really encircle (the cities)," says the voice Mr Murillo attributed to Mr Morales.
Mr Morales's order was a "crime against humanity," Mr Murillo said, accusing the ex-president of "terrorism".
Bolivia has lodged a formal protest to Mexico over Mr Morales's remarks, saying they "contravened" his political asylum status, the foreign ministry said.
Mr Morales, who claims to have been a victim of a coup after losing the support of the security forces, tweeted yesterday, several hours before Mr Murillo filed the complaint, that the investigation was based on "planted evidence and manipulated recordings".
Many Bolivians are fed up with the violence and want new elections in the hope they will stabilise the country.
In the latest unrest, police tear gassed indigenous protesters who marched on La Paz with the coffins of five of the eight people killed in clashes at a key fuel plant on Tuesday.