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Bolivian workers walk out in mass protest over election delays

BOLIVIAN workers mobilised in mass protests against the US-backed interim government yesterday in a second day of action to “save democracy.”

The Bolivian Workers’ Union (Cob) and the Unity Pact are among those angered over the delay to presidential elections from September 6 to October 18, which was announced by the “coup administration” of interim president Jeanine Anez last week.

It is the third time that polling has been delayed, with authorities insisting that it would be unsafe to hold the election due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But supporters of ousted former president Evo Morales have accused the interim government of trying to buy time as polls suggest that his Movement Towards Socialism (Mas) party and its presidential candidate Luis Arce will sweep to victory.

Mr Morales has denounced the delay as a coup and insisted that the change of date must be agreed by parliament.

Thousands of miners and indigenous Bolivians marched in El Alto on Tuesday where protests ended with an alternative council.

It agreed to press the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to reverse its decision to delay voting.

Cob general secretary Carlos Huarachi said: “El Alto is united and joins the Cob call to defend health, life, and democracy.”

One young protest leader told the TeleSur news outlet: “The people are crying out for us to recover democracy, which has been truncated in recent months.”

The government threatened the protest movement, insisting that it would not hesitate to make them “respect law and order.”

But it faces a groundswell of opposition with the United Federation of Rural Workers announcing an indefinite general strike and roadblocks in all 20 provinces of La Paz.

Mr Morales, who is currently in exile in Argentina, has been blocked from standing in the election.

The coup administration is trying to dismantle Mas in a bid to stop it fielding candidates.

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