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Bolivian authorities arrested a military leader on Wednesday evening hours after he apparently led a failed coup attempt during which soldiers stormed the presidential palace, the BBC reported.

Gen. Juan José Zúñiga, whose military command had been withdrawn a few days before, had ordered troops to gather on Plaza Murillo, a central square in the capital La Paz where the presidential palace and the parliament are located.

Eyewitness footage showed a military vehicle ramming the palace’s doors as soldiers forced themselves in.

In response to the attempted coup, left-wing President Luis Arce urged Bolivians to “organize and mobilize against the coup in favor of democracy.”

Zúñiga, appointed army commander in 2022, said he wanted to “restructure democracy” in Bolivia.

On Monday, he said he would arrest former President Evo Morales, a controversial figure in the country, if he ran in the upcoming general election. That comment cost him his job on Tuesday.

After the coup attempt was launched, Arce was seen confronting Zúñiga inside the palace, asking him to stand down.

Amid the chaos, the president then appointed a new trio at the head of the Bolivian armed forces, replacing him with Gen. Jose Wilson Sanchez.

In his first speech, Sanchez ordered military units to withdraw from Plaza Murillo and the streets, an order followed by putschists. The vehicle carrying Zúñiga was the first to retreat, TeleSur reported.

Later that night, the former army leader told reporters Arce had asked him to organize the coup to boost the president’s popularity. He was arrested seconds after and taken to an unknown location.

Opposition Senator Andrea Barrientos said she agreed with Zúñiga’s claims that Arce orchestrated the coup himself, while Bolivia’s government faces a tough economic and judicial crisis with skyrocketing living costs and plummeting foreign exchange reserves.

The country is also bracing for a tense election next year, Reuters wrote. Morales, who ran Bolivia between 2006 and 2019 before being ousted by protestors and the military, is expected to run against Arce, though the two men are from the same socialist party and used to be allies.

Nonetheless, Morales also condemned the coup, along with conservative figure and ex-interim President Jeanine Áñez, who was imprisoned in 2022, and Latin American governments across the political spectrum.

Meanwhile, the US government said it was closely monitoring the situation and called for calm.

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