Bolivians marched again in several cities on Friday night and there were even scattered cases of police joining the protests, adding to the pressure on President Evo Morales amid a weeks-long standoff over a disputed election last month.
In the city of Cochabamba, the scene of recent violent clashes, Reuters witnesses saw police officers protesting on the roof of their headquarters carrying Bolivian flags in an apparent act of disobedience against the government.
Images and footage on local television showed police in other cities also marching alongside protesters and joining chants regularly used by the opposition to leftist leader Morales. The national commander of the police force and the defense minister denied there was widespread insubordination by police but acknowledged the scattered police actions.
“We trust that the police commander can now get those police who for some reason are doing acts of disobedience to reflect and we are sure the police will continue to fulfill their constitutional job to safeguard the people,” Defense Minister Javier Zabaleta said on state television.
People should remain calm, he said, adding there were no plans to mobilize the military. The head of the national police said in a statement that forces around the country would fulfill their duties to ensure order and peace.
Morales, Latin America’s longest-standing leader, won the election last month but has faced mounting pressure after the 20 October vote count was inexplicably halted for nearly a day, sparking allegations of fraud. The South American country has been rattled by protests, and road blocks for almost three weeks, hurting the landlocked country’s image and economy.