Bolivia police clash as deal fails to end uprising

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2012 2:46 PM
Bolivia police clash as deal fails to end uprising

By Carlos Quiroga

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Rebel Bolivian police clashed with officers trying to return to work on Sunday despite a deal aimed at ending a three-day uprising over pay that has severely reduced policing across the Andean country.

Dozens of officers have been hurt and several police stations destroyed during the protests - a fresh challenge to President Evo Morales who has faced an upswing in social conflicts in the past year.

"We've got no doubt that there are conspiratorial intentions," said Government Minister Carlos Romero, confirming the rebellion continued among some sectors of the nation's police force in several cities.

"We've taken an important step, however, toward neutralizing this coup-mongering action," he said.

The government often blames social protests on political rivals bent on destabilizing the natural gas-exporting South American country.

Protesting police invaded the downtown square in front of the presidential palace on Sunday, accusing their leaders of betraying them by signing a deal on pay and conditions. Some clashed with officers trying to return to their jobs, local media reported.

As part of the deal the government agreed that the wages of the country's roughly 32,000 police officers should be brought into line with other public-sector employees with a minimum monthly wage of nearly $300. It also includes improvement pension benefits.

No serious criminal incidents were reported despite the absence of police patrols.

(Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Bill Trott)