Morales said he would call for “new national elections” that would allow “the Bolivian people to democratically elect new authorities”.
Shortly before his announcement, the Organization for American States (OAS) also recommended fresh elections.
“The first round of the elections held last October 20 must be annulled and the electoral process must begin again,” it said.
In a press release, the OAS said that the first round of the new election should occur “as soon as there are new conditions that give new guarantees for it to take place, including a newly composed electoral body”.
The first round of the elections held three weeks ago was denounced by the opposition as fraudulent, sparking protests that have continued ever since.
The announcements come a day after anti-government protesters overran two state-run media outlets and forced them off the air. Demonstrators burst into the offices of Bolivia TV and Radio Patria Nueva and forced employees to leave, accusing them of serving the interests of Morales, said the director of the latter of the two, Ivan Maldonado.
“We were evicted by force after receiving constant threats from people gathered outside,” Maldonado told AFP.
Some 40 employees were seen leaving the building that the two news organisations share in La Paz, walking hand in hand as a crowd of some 300 demonstrators yelled insults. Afterward, both outlets broadcast only music.
Morales denounced the seizure of the media outlets. “They say they defend democracy, but they behave as if they were in a dictatorship,” he tweeted.
A radio station run by a farmers’ union was also seized by protesters, Morales said.
Some police have stopped guarding the square where the Morales presidential palace is located, raising questions over whether the security forces will remain loyal to the president.
A police rebellion erupted on Friday among an elite tactical operations unit called UTOP in the central city of Cochabamba. It then spread to units in Sucre, the constitutional capital, and Santa Cruz, a bastion of opposition strength in the east.
During the night the rebellion reached other cities but mostly spared La Paz, the country’s administrative capital, local media reported.
But in a worrying sign for the Morales government, the UTOP officers in La Paz who for weeks have closely guarded the central Plaza Murillo — where the presidential palace is located — withdrew to their quarters Saturday in evident solidarity with the protests, an AFP reporter observed.
The sector remained guarded only by a small number of officers.
The leftist president, Bolivia’s first from the indigenous population, assailed the police action. Morales said Friday on Twitter that “our democracy is at risk from a coup d’etat launched by violent groups undermining the constitutional order.”
Opposition leaders urged the military to follow in the footsteps of the rebellious police.
Defense Minister Javier Zavaleta said there was no plan to send troops to subdue the police.
Morales said opposition militants had also set fire to the home of his sister in the southern city of Oruro as part of what he called an effort to overthrow him.
Footage on social media showed the home of his elder sister Esther partially in flames. The homes of the regional governor and that of Chuquisaca province governor were also set on fire.
Morales called earlier in the day for urgent, open-ended dialogue with opposition parties holding seats in the National Assembly, but he pointedly excluded the powerful regional civic committees opposing him.
An opposition leader, former president Carlos Mesa, immediately rejected Morales’s gesture, saying, “We have nothing to negotiate with Evo Morales and his government.”
Three people have died so far and hundreds injured in unrest triggered by the protests.
Morales has insisted that the October elections were fair and transparent.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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