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Bolivian armored vehicles, soldiers withdraw from square outside presidential palace

Morales, who has publicly split with Arce although both belong to the same socialist movement, announced a national mobilization of his supporters to back democracy.
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 20:10 IST

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La Paz: Bolivian armored vehicles and soldiers began withdrawing from around the country's presidential palace on Wednesday afternoon, a Reuters witness saw, after President Luis Arce appointed new military chiefs amid what regional leaders have condemned as an attempted coup.

The new military command has ordered that troops led by General Juan Jose Zuniga return home, while the country's top court condemned what it called an attack against democratic stability in the South American country.

Bolivian armed forces took over the capital's central square on Wednesday, and an armored vehicle rammed through the entrance to the presidential palace followed by soldiers, igniting fears of a military coup.

Bolivian President Luis Arce denounced the "irregular mobilization" of some army units in La Paz and former leader Evo Morales accused a top general of plotting a coup.

Heavily armed soldiers and armored vehicles were seen gathering in the central square, Plaza Murillo, while a Reuters witness saw an armored vehicle pushing into the presidential palace, which sits on the square, and soldiers rushing in.

"The three chiefs of the armed forces have come to express our dismay. There will be a new cabinet of ministers, surely things will change, but our country cannot continue like this any longer," General Juan Jose Zuniga told a local TV station.

Zuniga addressed reporters in the square prior to the assault on the national palace.

"Stop destroying, stop impoverishing our country, stop humiliating our army," he said in full uniform, flanked by soldiers, insisting the action being taken was supported by the public.

Morales, who has publicly split with Arce although both belong to the same socialist movement, said his supporters would mobilize in support of democracy.

He accused Zuniga of seeking to stage a coup and announced a general work stoppage including a call to block roadways.

"We will not allow the armed forces to violate democracy and intimidate people," Morales said.

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Published 26 June 2024, 20:10 IST

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