Bolivian government decries coup as some police join protests

Protest against Bolivia's President Evo Morales in La Paz

On Friday the defence minister said no action would be taken against the mutinous police.

Military chief Gen. Williams Kaliman said Saturday the military had no plans to intervene.

"The government can't use us to repress the people", one officer, who did not want to be identified, told the Observer.

"We always light candles and we see the candles are crying because they are also anxious about the situation that Bolivia is going through", said Sheyla Aguilar. "This is a political problem and it should be resolved within that realm".

According to the media report, the list of demands from dissident police officers includes better working conditions, the resignation of their commander and guarantees that they will not be used as the political "instrument of any government".

The government said on Friday that an audit of the contentious presidential election would likely be completed early next week, which could either back Morales' victory or throw open the door to a new vote. "I have nothing to negotiate with Evo Morales, who has lost all grip on reality", Mesa said.

Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho, a civic leader from the eastern city of Santa Cruz who has become a symbol of the opposition, reiterated their calls for Morales - the country's leader since 2006 - to step down.

At the presidential offices in La Paz, Foreign Minister Diego Pary said that the audit by the Organization of American States (OAS) should be ready by Tuesday or Wednesday. Neither Camacho nor Mesa say they will accept the results because they were not properly consulted about the process.


U.S. Undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Kozak echoed that view on Twitter: "Bolivian citizens deserve credible and transparent elections that they can trust to represent their will".

A police rebellion erupted Friday among an elite tactical operations unit called UTOP in the central city of Cochabamba.

"What we want here is to unite all Bolivians in a single cause".

Patria Nueva director, Ivan Maldonado, said that the journalists, who were vastly outnumbered by the protesters, "were evicted by force after receiving constant threats from people gathered outside".

He also condemned the seizure of the TV and radio stations, tweeting: "They [the protesters] say they defend democracy, but they behave as if they were in a dictatorship".

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.

But a 24-hour lapse in releasing vote results raised suspicions among opposition supporters that there had been fraud.

Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, had previously refused to accept the results of a referendum upholding term limits for the president.

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