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Bolivia paralysed by strikes and roadblocks in protest at election delays

BOLIVIA has been paralysed by strikes and roadblocks as trade unions and social movements protest at the repeated postponements of elections by the coup administration, which blames Covid-19 for the delays.

According to the National Transit Directorate, at least 30 routes were blocked on Monday as protesters demanded that voting take place on the originally agreed date of September 6.

The Bolivian Workers Union, the Unity Pact alliance of social organisations and the Movement Towards Socialism (Mas) party of ousted former president Evo Morales called an indefinite strike last week amid mass protests against the government’s decision to delay the elections for a third time.

Mr Morales has branded the postponement “a coup” and a desperate attempt by interim leader Jeanine Anez to cling to power, as polling suggests that Mas presidential candidate Luis Arce will sweep to victory.

The ex-president, who was forced to resign amid a US-backed coup last November, insists that the constitution requires any changes to the election date to be approved by the Mas-controlled Senate.

After launching the indefinite strike, unions and social movements gave the government 72 hours to cancel the postponement of the presidential and legislative elections.

The administration insists that a rise in Covid-19 cases makes the measures necessary and called the protesters’ actions “irresponsible.”

The country of 11 million people has had more than 80,000 confirmed cases of the disease, including Ms Anez.

Earlier this year, Mr Morales was blocked from standing for a Senate seat on the grounds that he is not a resident of Bolivia, since he lives in exile in Argentina.

The administration is seeking to disband Mas in a bid to stop the party from contesting the parliamentary poll.

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