Friday, 22 November, 2019

Bolivia protests: Ruling party urges support for Evo Morales

A woman injured in clashes with the police during a protest against President Evo Morales' reelection is carried to safety in La Paz Bolivia Thurs Amid protests, Morales says 'coup' risks democracy in Bolivia
Deanna Wagner | 10 November, 2019, 09:27

Dissension appeared to be spreading in police forces across Bolivia on Friday as opposing sides in the country's political divide held fast to their positions after 17 days of violent protests over the legitimacy of President Evo Morales' claimed re-election.

The government has so far not confronted the spreading police rebellion, attempting instead to minimize its scale and importance.

Defense Minister Javier Zabaleta has downplayed the police protests, saying a "police mutiny occurred in a few regions".

Police guards outside the presidential palace in Bolivia left their posts on Saturday, increasing pressure on President Evo Morales as he tries to curb nationwide unrest after a disputed election.

Morales, Latin America's longest-standing leader, won the election on October 20 but a delay of almost a day in the vote count has sparked allegations of fraud and led to protests, strikes and road blocks.

Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho, a civic leader from the eastern city of Santa Cruz who has become a symbol of the opposition, reiterated their calls for Morales - the country's leader since 2006 - to step down.

On Friday, members of the Police Operations Tactical Unit and the Cochabamba Traffic Unit began a mutiny, which was backed by hundreds of civilians, who requested the resignation of the constitutional president, according to several television channels.

"We hope that President Evo Morales has wisdom and also believes in Pachamama (Mother Earth) and in all the saints".

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Bolivian leader Evo Morales has slammed attacks on state media, that saw rioters forcing journalists to leave their offices unless they want them to be trashed.

On Wednesday he flew to La Paz, Bolivia's capital, with a resignation letter for Mr Morales to sign and a bible "in order that God returns to the palace".

Carlos Mesa, the main opposition leader and a former president, promptly rejected the suggestion.

Police officers wave a Bolivian flag from a roof and chant. "We, the police, belong to the people, we do not belong to a political party or particular government". The mood was starkly different from previous nights of clashes as protesters surrounded officers singing: "Brother, police, join the people".

After the vote, Morales declared himself the outright victor even before official results indicated he obtained just enough support to avoid a runoff with Mesa.

The opposition has disputed the results and criticized the vote-counting process, citing the alleged lack of transparency.

The authorities said on Friday an audit of this controversial presidential elections will probably be completed next week, which may either back Morales' successor toss open the doorway to a different vote.

The president said he would also invite global organizations including the Vatican, the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), which is conducting an audit of the election.