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President Evo Morales denounces a coup “in progress”

Seventeen days after protests against the re-election of Evo Morales began, at least three police units joined protesters on Friday.

“Sisters and brothers, our democracy is in danger”. Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Friday that a coup was “In progress” after the mutinies of at least three police companies. “We denounce to the international community this attack on the rule of law”, the president said on Twitter. The defense minister said there was no talk of a military intervention against the rebel police at the moment.

Seventeen days after protests against the controversial re-election of Evo Morales began, at least three police units joined the ranks of protesters in the city of Cochabamba, then in Sucre and Santa Cruz, a rich region located in eastern part of the country and opposition stronghold. Scenes of fraternization between police and opposition protesters were observed in the capital.

In addition to mutinies in these three cities, dozens of police marched Friday night with opposition protesters shouting slogans hostile to Evo Morales on Prado Avenue, the main artery of La Paz. Live television footage showed some 20 officers climbing the police headquarters building, waving the Bolivian flag, while dozens of young opponents were encouraging them from the street. In La Paz, the policemen withdrew to their barracks and a crowd sang: “Police friend, people are with you”.

Evo Morales, 60, has been in power since 2006. He was re-elected on 20 October for a fourth term until 2025 but the opposition denounced a “fraud”. The wave of protests that erupted the day after the election left three dead and 200 wounded.

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