Exiled former Bolivian president Evo Morales on Tuesday called for calm after several hundred right-wing protesters demanded that a “military junta” replace socialist Bolivian president-elect Luis Arce.
On Monday, hundreds of demonstrators marched to military barracks in the eastern city of Santa Cruz — a right-wing stronghold — and called for “military help” to prevent the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party from regaining power following a year under conservative Jeanine Anez’s interim government.
However, Morales wrote on Twitter that “the constitution is very clear on the role of the armed forces and the Bolivian police: We, as we always have done, will respect them as institutions.”
“We must all act calmly in a constitutional way,” he added.
Bolivia has been in political crisis for a year after Morales ignored the constitution and stood for and won a fourth successive term as president, even though leaders are limited to two terms.
Following weeks of protest and an Organization of American States (OAS) audit that found clear evidence of fraud, Morales resigned and fled the country and Anez, a senator, assumed the presidency.
New elections were held on Oct. 18, with Arce — from Morales’ MAS party — romping to victory.
The electoral tribunal, Anez and four observer missions, including the OAS, have all confirmed that the election was clean and transparent.
Arce claimed more than 55 percent of the vote, with centrist former Bolivian president Carlos Mesa a distant second on just under 29 percent.
However, Monday’s protesters said they did not trust the result.
“I don’t want a communist country,” one banner read, El Deber de Santa Cruz newspaper reported.
“I support a constitutional transition of power to a military junta to avoid a second fraud,” another read.
One protester told the newspaper that he wanted “a transitional military government until it’s possible to hold elections without fraud.”
Santa Cruz is the stronghold of right-wing civic leader Luis Fernando Camacho, who led protests against Morales last year and finished third in the election with 14 percent.
Morales was barred from standing in the election.
Bolivia is waiting to see when Morales would return from exile in Argentina after a judge on Monday lifted a preventative detention order against him over alleged “terrorism.”
On Tuesday, he said he would “possibly” return by Nov. 9.
Neither the armed forces nor the government has commented on the demonstration.
The topic is sensitive in Bolivia, which was mostly ruled by military dictatorships from 1964 to 1982.
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