Bolivian socialist leader Evo Morales said that rioters pose a threat to peace and democracy as protests over allegations of vote rigging continue to rage across the country.
“Our democracy faces the risk of a coup d’etat the violent groups try to launch in order to undermine the constitutional order,” Morales tweeted on Saturday, denouncing “this unlawful attempt in front of the international community.”
He called on Bolivians to respect democracy and the nation’s constitution for the sake of “preserving peace and life as supreme values above political interest.”
The protests have been raging in the landlocked South American country since mid-October, when Morales won his fourth consecutive term in office. Opposition politicians accused the president of vote rigging and called for a new election after he narrowly secured a 10-point lead against his rival, Carlos Mesa, which allowed him to avoid a runoff vote.
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Morales denied manipulating the tallies and invited the chief regional bloc, the Organization of American States (OAS), which criticized the election, to audit the vote-counting process. He also accused Mesa of attempting to “steal” the election.
There have been rival rallies of Morales’ opponents and supporters throughout the country. While some anti-government protests have remained peaceful, others have led to rioting in major cities, clashes with police, and attacks on pro-government politicians.
Ruling Bolivia since 2006, Morales has gained a reputation as a staunch defender of socialism and an ardent critic of US foreign policy.
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