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Bolivia’s Arce faces off with army amid attempted coup | Military News

Bolivia’s Arce faces off with army amid attempted coup | Military News

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Regional organisations rally behind Bolivian government as troops and armoured vehicles gather in the capital.

Soldiers have stormed Bolivia’s presidential palace in what appears to be an attempted coup d’etat, as President Luis Arce denounced the “irregular mobilisation” of the country’s army.

Arce called on the armed forces to demobilise immediately.

“The country is facing an attempted coup d’etat. Here we are, firm in Casa Grande, to confront any coup attempt. We need the Bolivian people to organize,” Arce said in a video surrounded by ministers in the palace.

Video on Bolivian television on Wednesday showed Arce confronting the general commander of the army, Juan Jose Zuniga, in the palace hallway. “I am your captain, and I order you to withdraw your soldiers, and I will not allow this insubordination,” Arce said.

Before he entered the building, Zuniga addressed reporters in the capital.

“Stop destroying, stop impoverishing our country, stop humiliating our army,” he said.

“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,” Zuniga told a local TV station. The general noted that he recognizes Arce as the commander in chief “for now” but is trying to “restore democracy”.

Former President Evo Morales denounced the movement of the military in the Murillo square outside the palace, calling it a coup “in the making”.

“We will not allow the armed forces to violate democracy and intimidate people,” he said.

The country’s largest labour union has announced an indefinite strike in defence of the government and against the actions of the army.

Latin American leaders and organisations also strongly condemned the effort on Wednesday, with officials from countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Peru, Honduras, Paraguay, and Colombia denouncing the army’s moves as an attack on democracy.

A spokesperson for the White House said that the United States urges calm and restraint, and that the Biden administration is monitoring developments.

“We condemned the events in Bolivia. The army must submit itself to the legitimately elected civil power,” Luis Almagro, leader of the Organization of American States (OAS) said following news reports that a tank had slammed into the doors of the national palace, clearing a path for soldiers to enter.

Armoured vehicle in the streets of La Paz
Military police gather outside the main entrance as an armoured vehicle rams into the door of the presidential palace in Plaza Murillo in La Paz, Bolivia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024 [Juan Karita/AP Photo]

The scenes have brought alarm to the Andean nation, where former left-wing President Morales, from the same party as Arce, was removed from office in events many described as a coup in 2019.

Photos from The Associated Press show soldiers clearing away journalists near the presidential palace in the capital of La Paz. Armoured vehicles and heavily armed soldiers were present.

“We express the strongest condemnation of the attempted coup d’etat in Bolivia,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

Honduran President Xiomara Castro called the mobilisation a “criminal coup d’etat” and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the group of European states condemns any attempts to overthrow the democratically elected government.

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