Bolivia protest leader to decide timing for march to government palace

 Bolivia protest leader to decide timing for march to government palace

LA PAZ (Reuters) - A Bolivian protest leader who has emerged as a symbol of the opposition said that he will decide on Thursday the date and time for a march to the government palace to deliver a pre-written resignation letter for President Evo Morales to sign.

Luis Fernando Camacho said at a press conference that he would be meeting with his associates to discuss when to attempt the march to deliver the letter to Morales, a symbolic gesture following a contentious election that the long-standing leftist leader won last month.

"(The letter) will be delivered publicly and openly via the media to Mr. Morales. We will not move until we can effectively deliver the letter," Camacho told reporters.

Camacho was blocked on Tuesday from exiting the city's main airport in nearby El Alto before he was flown back to Santa Cruz in an air force plane. He returned to El Alto on Wednesday and was whisked away in a convoy in the midst of a huge security presence and rival protest groups massing outside.

Bolivia's government slammed "shameful" violence that led to scores being injured and one killed on Wednesday in protests over the contentious presidential election last month, blaming clashes on the opposition as anger rises on both sides.

Morales, whose October election win was marred by allegations of fraud after an abrupt halt in the vote count and an unusual swing in the leftist leader's favor, again blamed the opposition for the civil unrest as he addressed supporters in the rural area of Cochabamba.

"Sisters and brothers, without being a government, see how they are kicking us, how they are humiliating us. If they were a government, what else would they do to us?" Morales said.

Government critics, meanwhile, pointed the finger at supporters of Morales.

In a press conference on Thursday, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera called on opposition leaders Carlos Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho to help stop the violence and heed an ongoing audit of the vote by the Organization of American States (OAS).

Mesa, the runner-up in the Oct. 20 vote, and civic leader Camacho, have been calling instead for Morales - the country's leader since 2006 - to step down and to hold new elections without him.

Images and televisions footage on Wednesday showed groups clashing in city streets around the country, with particular violence in the cities of Cochabamba and La Paz. A young man was confirmed killed, while images of a local mayor covered in red paint by anti-government supporters circulated widely.

Mesa said on Twitter on Thursday that the young man, named as Limbert Guzman, had been "murdered" by Morales supporters and blamed the government for stoking the violence.

(Reporting by Daniel Ramos; Writing by Adam Jourdan and Cassandra GarrisonEditing by Alistair Bell and Cynthia Osterman)

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Updated Date: Nov 08, 2019 02:11:08 IST