Demonstrations continued throughout Bolivia on Friday, November 8, with groups rallying in support of President Evo Morales and others calling for his resignation. In La Paz, two rival groups of political supporters marched past each other in the city center but remained peaceful. Luis Fernando Camacho, the opposition leader of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, has vowed to remain in La Paz until Morales resigns. Protests have largely been focused near Murillo Square and the Casa Grande del Pueblo. Demonstrations were also reported in Potosí, Sucre, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz. In El Alto, a taxi driver union issued a statement demanding that the members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia (TSE) resign by Tuesday, November 12, or they will launch a 24-hour strike. Clashes between rival political supporters and security forces are possible as protests are expected to continue over the coming hours and days.
Local media sources also reported police officers siding with anti-Morales protesters in Cochabamba, Sucre, and Santa Cruz on Friday. In Cochabamba, masked police officers demanded the removal of their commanding officer, who they have blamed for the death of one protester in recent days. As of Friday evening (local time), it is unclear how widespread the police mutinies are throughout the country.
Demonstrations are expected to continue despite the government’s announcement on Friday that an audit into the presidential election will be completed early next week. According to Foreign Minister Diego Pary, the results should be ready by either November 12 or Wednesday, November 13. A heightened security presence and associated disruptions are anticipated around all protest sites. Associated political rallies are expected to take place throughout Bolivia in the coming days, particularly in La Paz.
Tensions have been high in the country since the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia (TSE) halted its provisionary vote count on October 20 after 83 percent of the ballot was completed. Initial results indicated that President Evo Morales was short of securing the 10-percentage point lead needed to prevent a runoff election. However, on October 21, the TSE updated the count, indicating that President Evo Morales secured 47.08 percent of the vote against his primary rival Carlos Mesa, who received 35.51 percent, preventing a runoff. Political opposition supporters are accusing the TSE of manipulating the vote in favor of Morales. The protests have already left 30 wounded in the violence and constant clashes with police.
Individuals in La Paz and across Bolivia are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in demonstration- and strike-affected areas, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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