Morales convenes emergency meeting after mutinies in police

In the Obrajes region, south of La Paz, people on the streets celebrated police mutinies as if the Bolivian national football team had won.

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Protests in La Paz against President Morales on 8 November. AIZAR RALDES / AFP

Bolivian President Evo Morales convened an emergency meeting on the evening of 8 November with several ministers in the aftermath of mutinies by at least three police companies, a rebellion that the government has ruled out for the time being to send. army.

Mr. Morales, who did not speak, gathered at Casa Grande del Pueblo, the modern and central tower where his office is located, ministers and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, General Williams Kaliman, to discuss the situation.

Defense Minister Javier Zavaleta assured him that there was no question of a military intervention against the mutineers for now: "No military operation will be conducted at the moment, it is totally excluded", did he declare.

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Fraternization between police officers and protesters

Seventeen days after the start of protests against the re-election of Mr. Morales, at least three police units mutinied, in the city of Cochabamba (center) first, then in Sucre (south, capital of Bolivia ) and Santa Cruz (east), a rich region in the east of the country and an opposition stronghold. Scenes of fraternization between police and opposition protesters were observed in the capital.

"We mutinied ourselves"said a police officer, his face concealed in front of the journalists at the Tactical Police Operations Unit (UTOP) headquarters in Cochabamba. "We will be on the side of the people, not with the generals", added one of his colleagues, also masked.

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"People are with you"

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.

The demonstrators blew up firecrackers in a festive atmosphere and hoisted a Bolivian flag (red, yellow and green) on the flagpole, singing the national anthem.

"Police in Chuquisaca (Sucre) unite to support comrades who mutinied in Cochabamba", also said another agent of the Bolivian capital who also had the concealed face.

In addition to the mutinies in these three cities, dozens of police marched Friday night with opposition demonstrators shouting slogans hostile to Mr. Morales on the Prado Avenue, the main artery of La Paz, said a reporter from AFP.

Local TV stations also showed images of demonstrators shaking police hands in the center of the capital, a contrast with the previous three nights when the two sides clashed.

In La Paz, the policemen withdrew to their barracks and a crowd sang: "Police friend, people are with you".

"I cried with emotion"

Regional leader Luis Fernando Camacho, the most visible and radical leader of the Bolivian opposition, last Saturday asked the military and the police to join the opposition in this crisis triggered by the controversial re-election of Mr. Morales in the elections of October 20th.

Camacho was at a rally in the southern part of La Paz on Friday afternoon when news of the Cochabamba mutiny spread. The crowd cheered standing and began to sing: "Friend of the police, the people are with you". "I cried with emotion, Great Police", tweeted Mr. Camacho soon after. "Thank you for being with your people, God bless you".

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In the Obrajes region, south of La Paz, people on the streets celebrated police mutinies as if the Bolivian national football team had won, an AFP journalist said.

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 vote left three dead and 200 wounded.


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