Police outside Bolivia's presidential palace abandon posts

Police outside Bolivia's presidential palace abandon posts

Bolivian leader Evo Morales said on Friday that he did not intend to step down despite the calls of opposition and protests that had been ravaging the country since the October presidential election, Trend reports citing Sputnik.

The government has so far not confronted the spreading police rebellion, attempting instead to minimize its scale and importance.

Defense Minister Javier Zabaleta said a "police mutiny occurred in a few regions", but he rejected the idea of a military intervention "at this time".

In La Paz on Saturday crowds draped in the red, yellow and green Bolivian flags surrounded the empty Plaza Murillo, or main square, as police deserted barricades and withdrew to a police station just a block from the city's towering Casa Grande del Pueblo presidential palace and the parliament building.

Growing dissension in police ranks posed a new threat to Morales, who claimed victory after the October 20 vote but has since faced protests in which three people have been killed and hundreds injured.

In a tweet in the early hours of Saturday, Morales repeated accusations that "violent groups" were launching a coup against the state.

Another opposition leader, Luis Fernando Camacho, said the president "is looking for exits, when people demand his resignation and call for new elections".

"They (skulls) told me they are anxious, not only the Ñatitas, but all the saints in heaven and that they see us and they think Bolivia will get back to normal again", said Delfina Condotiticona, a regular devotee of the practice.

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On Wednesday he flew to La Paz, Bolivia's capital, with a resignation letter for Mr Morales to sign and a bible "in order that God returns to the palace".

In a news conference, Morales proposed a compromise - the four parties which received the most votes in the nine-candidate election should sit down with "an open agenda to pacify Bolivia".

Speaking to local media, several uniformed officers called on Mr Morales to resign, and said they would stop him from turning Bolivia into a dictatorship like his allies in Cuba and Venezuela. There have been reports that some police and military were spotted marching along with the protesters. "The police are joining their people", one officer said.

Morales declared himself the outright victor even before official results indicated he obtained just enough support to avoid a runoff with Mesa.

The opposition has disputed the results and criticized the vote-counting process, citing the alleged lack of transparency.

Morales said he would also invite global organizations including the Vatican, the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), which is conducting an audit of the October vote.

The country has been locked in a standoff since contentious elections last month, which were won by leftist leader Morales, who has been in power since 2006.

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