BUENOS AIRES, November 2. /TASS/. Bolivian President Luis Arce replaced the country's military leadership, saying during a ceremony that there was an attempted coup d’etat in the country, the newspaper Pagina 12 reported on Wednesday.
"Today, they (the initiators of the protests in the country - TASS) are setting in motion a strategy to repeat the coup d’etat of 2019 <...> This is called an attack on national integrity. The task of the armed forces is to protect the independence and unity of our territory," the newspaper quoted Arce as saying. In his speech, he did not specify from whom the coup d’etat threat emanated, but the decision to reshuffle the country’s military was made amid strikes that have been going on for more than ten days in the department of Santa Cruz.
The Bolivian president stressed that the armed forces "are obliged to defend the legitimately elected government and to respect the constitution." According to the Pagina 12, General Hugo Aranda, who was appointed commander of the Bolivian armed forces, stated that he was committed to "act in accordance with constitutional duties" and protect the integrity of the state.
Arce also replaced the chief of General Staff and the commanders of the Air Force, Navy and Ground forces.
The organizers of the protests, which are supported by the region's authorities, are demanding a census in 2023, not in 2024, as the national government plans. The Department of Santa Cruz is interested in holding the census as soon as possible because it expects an increase in budget allocations and representation quotas.
In November 2019, the incumbent Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned amid military protests against his re-election. The second vice-president of the Chamber of Senators (the upper house of parliament), Jeanine Anez, announced that she was taking over as head of state until new elections were held, and appointed her cabinet. In October 2020, the country held a new vote, which resulted in the election of Luis Arce, an associate of Morales, as president.