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Bolivia protests rattle political truce as country graples with pandemic

La Paz/EL AltoBolivia's government said on Monday it had ordered police and military to protect key installations and the transport of medical oxygen after clashes broke out over protests and roadblocks by opposition supporters demanding a quick election.

Tensions are brewing as the South American nation heads for a key presidential election on Oct. 18, which has been delayed due to COVID-19. Supporters of unseated former leftist leader Evo Morales are demanding the vote be held on Sept. 6. The standoff threatens to convulse the landlocked country and revive memories of last year's deadly clashes following a disputed election that led to the resignation of Morales, dozens of people being killed and buildings being set on fire.
Local media reports that protest blockades are affecting oxygen supplies to hospitals. Video provided by the Caja Petrolera Clinic in La Paz reportedly shows hospital equipment for patients running low on oxygen. Local reports put the number of deaths in hospitals allegedly as a result of a lack of oxygen at 33.

The election is being fought between Morales' Movement for Socialism (MAS) party and a fragmented conservative opposition, including interim President Jeanine Anez, who took over in a power vacuum last year promising swift new election.
Morales, currently in Argentina, has criticised the interim government, which he accuses of leading a coup, and encouraged mobilisations to protest against the election delay. The protesters, mostly in rural areas, have blocked access to some main cities using stones, rubble and earth.

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