Bolivian President Evo Morales on Friday warned the country that violent groups had launched a “coup d’etat” after a police mutiny was reported in several regions.
“Sisters and brothers, our democracy is at risk due to the coup d’etat that violent groups have launched to undermine the constitutional order,” he wrote on Twitter late on Friday.
The president’s remarks followed local media reports that police units in at least four regions had decided to rebel against the government.
Police join protests
In some cases, groups of officers joined the anti-government protests that have rocked the country since Morales won a strong but disputed victory in the October 20 elections.
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.
Units in the southeastern city of Sucre and the opposition stronghold of Santa Cruz said they were also joining a rebellion launched by police officers in the central city of Cochabamba.
The police mutiny is the first sign that security forces are withdrawing support for Morales, who is South America’s longest-running president, having taken office in 2006.
After an emergency Cabinet meeting, the country’s defense minister said the government had, for now, ruled out a military operation against the rebellious police teams.
Election irregularities rejected
Earlier on Friday, the country’s electoral tribunal (TSE) rejected claims that vote count irregularities had been discovered in the poll, while protesters continued their demands for a new election.
The TSE referred critics to a report by the company Ethical Hacking, which had checked the electronic vote and did not find any “alteration of the data.”
But the company’s head, Alvaro Andrade, said his firm did find “vulnerabilities” in the vote count, local media reported.
Carlos Mesa, who lost to Morales in the election, has denounced the vote as fraudulent, insisting the results had been manipulated during a 24-hour period when the electoral count was suspended.
The United States, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina have also called for a second-round runoff between Morales and Mesa.
Bolivia has been consumed by weeks of protests and rioting by opposition groups and supporters of Morales ever since. Three people have been killed and more than 300 injured.
mm/tj (AFP, AP, dpa)
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