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  • The President of Bolivia, Luis Arce, on Monday, during the oath ceremony of the Armed Forces' top echelons, at the Government House in La Paz known as La Casa del Pueblo.

    The President of Bolivia, Luis Arce, on Monday, during the oath ceremony of the Armed Forces' top echelons, at the Government House in La Paz known as La Casa del Pueblo. | Photo: Telesur/Tweeter

Published 16 November 2020
Opinion

The removal of the former top military brass is an important step in the changes President Luis Arce is making after the end of the de facto government.

On Monday, the President of Bolivia, Luis Arce, swore in the new High Command of the Armed Forces and appointed Jaime Alberto Zabala Saldía as its new commander at the Government House in La Paz known as La Casa del Pueblo. Zabala Saldía will occupy the position held until now by Carlos Orellana, imposed by the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez in November 2019, after the coup d'état against Evo Morales.

President Arce asked the new military leadership to guarantee the stability of the country in the current circumstances.

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During the oath ceremony, Arce expressed: "I want to ask you that the Armed Forces, along with our people work to achieve the unity of all Bolivians, to defend democracy, social peace, as well as to guarantee the stability of our government elected by the sovereign will."

"We have the great challenge of returning to the Armed Forces their institutionality," of giving them "the place in society that was unfortunately used in a wrong way," and that the Bolivian people "will once again trust that the Armed Forces will respect democratic processes," the president stressed.


For his part, Zabala emphasized several times the article of the Bolivian Constitution that refers to military powers and their function of "guaranteeing the stability of the legally constituted government."

The new commander spoke of "rectifying what was wrong and deepening what was right," a phrase from Arce's first speech that he asked to be applied to the Armed Forces to "maintain hierarchy and discipline" in the institution.

Among the new military management priorities, Arce mentioned the need for more efficient work in defense and civil assistance in the face of natural disasters and the fight against smuggling and organized crime on the country's borders.

The replacements included the new Chief of Staff and the Army's commanders, the Air Force, and the Navy. Jaime Zabala, who comes from the Air Force, will be the new commander in chief of the Armed Forces.  Arce also swore in Miguel Ángel Contreras as Chief of Staff, Faut Ramos as commander of the Army, Javier Torrico from the Navy, and Cesar Vallejos Air Force.

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