Published: Sun, November 10, 2019

Bolivian President Morales refuses to step down amid protests

Bolivian President Morales refuses to step down amid protests

Later, Morales went on Twitter to warn that "our democracy is at risk from the coup d'etat put in place by violent groups that are attacking the constitutional order".

Bolivian television broadcast footage of police shaking hands with demonstrators in the city of La Paz - a stark contrast to the previous three nights, when the two sides clashed.

Initial reports indicate uniformed officers joined protesters in La Paz, Sucre, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Potosí and Oruro.

For his part, Defense Minister Javier Zavaleta denied in a press conference that the Armed Forces had taken to the streets following the mutiny of police officers in Cochabamba.

Speaking to a large crowd in La Paz hours after the incident at the airport, Morales sent greetings to his supporters, asking that they unite to defeat his critics.

The Bolivian government has been facing widespread protests after the opposition alleged fraud in the counting of votes for the October 20 elections, with Morales being declared an outright victor in results even though the two main candidates had seemed to be heading for a runoff.

Camacho had traveled to La Paz, saying he hoped to get Morales to sign a letter of resignation - something the president has rejected. Police officers in other cities left the streets and returned to their stations, without explaining why.

Some police units in Bolivia became openly defiant toward the government on Friday, an ominous development for Morales as he seeks to stabilize the divided country after claiming victory in the October 20 vote.

Morales convened an emergency meeting with his ministers and military high command to analyze the situation. His government issued a statement claiming that an opposition plot to oust the president was being led by Camacho and former President Carlos Mesa, who finished second in the October 20 election.

The Organization of American States is auditing the results. The opposition, which has alleged vote-rigging, says it will not accept the results because they were not consulted about the audit plan. The former union leader, and Bolivia's first indigenous president, has shepherded significant economic growth and an overhaul of the constitution.

Opponents challenge an official count that showed Morales winning with 47% of the vote and a margin of just over 10 percentage points over his nearest competitor - enough to avoid the need for a runoff against a united opposition.

Morales, who took office in 2006, had previously refused to accept the results of a referendum upholding term limits for the president.

Allegations of fraud have resulted in protests, strikes and roadblocks.

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