Bolivian Defense Minister Javier Zavaleta has announced his resignation amid the ongoing protests that have gripped the country, the South American country’s Defense Ministry wrote on its Twitter account.
"I’m stepping down as the defense minister in order to maintain unity in the Armed Forces," the minister stressed.
Zavaleta stressed that he and Commander-in-Chief Evo Morales, who earlier resigned, "have never ordered soldiers and sailors to take up arms against their people and would never do this." "If now the military uses weapons against people, this will be the responsibility of those who have made this decision," TASS reports.
Earlier, the chief commander of the Bolivian armed forces, Williams Kaliman, announced that the military would join an effort on maintaining order in the streets upon a request from police.
The defense chief also called on Bolivian presidential hopeful Carlos Mesa and leader of protests against Morales’ re-election, Luis Fernando Camacho, to prevent conflict escalation.
On November 10, Bolivian President Evo Morales announced his resignation, branding the recent developments as a coup d’etat. He stepped down following the demands of the country’s armed forces, opposition and trade unions. On the same day, Mexico’s authorities declared readiness to grant him political asylum. Earlier, a Mexican Air Force plane with Morales on board took off from Bolivia.
Several other ministers have decided to quit. Despite Morales’ resignation, the situation in the country is not calm. Bolivia’s media outlets have reported about clashes between supporters of the opposition and Morales.