Bolivia's Morales denounces protests by 'violent groups'

Nellie Chapman
November 10, 2019

The opposing sides in Bolivia's disputed election are not budging following 17 days of violent protests over the legitimacy of President Evo Morales' apparent re-election.

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

But the country's defence minister said there were no plans to send the military to quell the police "mutiny".

Police fire tear gas at demonstrators during a protest against the reelection of President Evo Morales, in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. Some police guards have abandoned their posts at several ministerial buildings.

Morales, Latin America's longest-standing leader, won the election on October 20 but the vote count had been inexplicably halted for almost a day, sparking allegations of fraud and leading to protests, strikes and road blocks.

Morales earlier convened an emergency meeting with some of his ministers. Morales said Friday on Twitter that "our democracy is at risk from a coup d'etat launched by violent groups undermining the constitutional order".

The leader of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee has vowed not to leave La Paz until he delivers a pre-written resignation letter and a Bible to Morales.

During the counting of votes protest rallies sprang up across Bolivia and later morphed into civil unrest.

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

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"Your decision is what will define your own fate and the fate of Bolivia, we have nothing to negotiate with you", he said.

Police units in some cities started protesting on Friday, marching in the streets in uniform as anti-government protesters cheered them from the sidewalks.

Main opposition leader Carlos Mesa, a former president, rejected that suggestion.

Patria Nueva director, Ivan Maldonado, said that the journalists, who were vastly outnumbered by the protesters, "were evicted by force after receiving constant threats from people gathered outside".

In this regard, Police General Commander Yuri Calderon told the press that 70 percent of the forces of that armed body remain quartered.

In the city of Santa Cruz, a stronghold for anti-Morales sentiment, hundreds of opposition supporters marched along with police mutineers.

After the October 20 vote, Morales, the country's first indigenous president, declared himself the outright victor even before official results indicated he obtained just enough support to avoid a runoff with Mesa. However, the vote was marred by a halt to the count and widespread allegations of fraud.

The country has been locked in a standoff since contentious elections last month, which were won by leftist leader Morales, who has been in power since 2006. The opposition says it will not accept the results because they were not consulted on how the process would unfold.

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