Bolivia instructs Armed Forces to avoid suppressing protests: Defence Minister
Bolivia's authorities have instructed the military to avoid using force for suppressing protests, Defence Minister Javier Zavaleta said.
The demonstrations erupted in the wake of the October 20 presidential election. The electoral authorities said that incumbent President Evo Morales had won his fourth term in office in the first round.
However, his rival, Carlos Mesa, has not recognized the election results. The opposition engaged in the rallies, which subsequently grew into unrest, arguing that there had been irregularities in the vote-counting process.
"President Evo Morales and our government instructed the Armed Forces not to carry out any operations in any city under any circumstances," Zavaleta said, as quoted by the ABI news agency, late on Friday.
Earlier that day, media reported that police officers joined protests in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Sucre and Cochabamba.
The situation prompted Morales to convene an emergency meeting, which was attended by Zavaleta, among other officials.
Bolivia asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to hold an audit of vote-counting. According to Foreign Minister Diego Pary, the organization will provide Bolivia with the report on its audit on Tuesday or Wednesday.