Bolivian opposition leaders rally as violence flares
07/11/2019 09:56, La Paz/Bolivia, Plurinational State of

(TAP) - A Bolivian protest leader will make a second attempt to reach the capital on Wednesday to demand President Evo Morales step down, a gambit which has sparked a fierce backlash from government supporters while helping rally a split opposition.

Luis Fernando Camacho, a civic leader from the eastern city of Santa Cruz, plans to deliver a pre-written letter of resignation for Morales to sign following a contentious election the leftist leader won last month.

Camacho attempted on Tuesday to reach La Paz but was barred from leaving the capital's main airport in nearby El Alto for several hours as government supporters massed outside. An air force plane later returned him to Santa Cruz.

Camacho's effort is likely to stoke tensions following weeks of long protests and strikes since the Oct. 20 vote. Hostilities have ramped up since Tuesday night in La Paz and Cochabamba with clashes between Morales supporters and the opposition.

Local television footage on Wednesday showed crowds clashing in the street with unidentified groups beating people with sticks. There were reports one person was killed in the city of Quillacollo. Others images showed people carrying slingshots.

A Reuters reporter saw Camacho arrive at the Santa Cruz airport late in the afternoon. The civic leader posted on Twitter saying he should arrive in El Alto at 7 p.m. (2300 GMT)

"Thanks to La Paz and Bolivia for the support!! In the name of God, the sun rises tomorrow for Bolivians!" he wrote.

Carlos Mesa, the runner-up in the October election, was waiting for Camacho at El Alto airport.

"I am here to receive Mr. Camacho and express our solidarity and support for his basic right of free movement and his right to petition," said Mesa, who has repeatedly raised allegations of fraud against Morales and called for new elections.

"I think this is a fundamental moment for the opposition that believes in a democratic response and a peaceful way out."

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