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Peru’s beleaguered president urges congress to bring 2024 elections forward | Peru

Peru’s beleaguered President, Dina Boluarte, has called on Congress to postpone elections scheduled for April 2024 to later this year as anti-government protests and blockades intensify across the country.

Boluarte, who has refused to step down despite fierce nationwide protests calling for her to step down, said Friday the election should be pushed back to December to ease a seven-week riot that has claimed 57 lives, mostly civilians killed in clashes. with the security forces.

Speaking at a military airbase in Lima, Boluarte said she hoped the unconditional offer would “get us out of this quagmire.” She said the executive would call the election as soon as Congress set a date. The deeply unpopular House approved a two-year delay to April 2024 in its first vote earlier this month, but must hold a second vote to make a final decision.

“No one is interested in clinging to power … and I, Dina Boluarte, am not interested in staying in the presidency,” she said.

Peru has been embroiled in political turmoil and street violence since early December, when former President Pedro Castillo was arrested after trying to dissolve the congress and government by decree. Boluarte, his vice president and former running mate, took office.

But demonstrations and blockades have grown in size and scope as dozens of civilians have been killed in violent clashes with security forces, predominantly in the southern Andes, a region ignored and marginalized by the Lima establishment, which largely supported the ousted Castillo, who promised to eradicate poverty and change status quo.

Hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of the southern city of Cusco on Thursday holding signs denouncing the president as a monster, a murderer and a Judas.

“We are here to protest against this authoritarian government that is killing its own people,” said one of the marchers, a 40-year-old teacher named Javier Cuzimai.

“We feel stronger than ever and will fight until the very end. This is a peaceful, merciless struggle. The violence comes from the government. So many of our brothers have died. This government cannot continue to exist,” Kusimei added as protesters moved through the cobbled streets of the picturesque historic city center.

The protests spread to the capital, Lima, as demonstrators traveled in droves from the southern Andes to the capital, demanding Boluarte’s resignation, the closure of Congress, and new elections.

Students joined the ranks of the protesters on Tuesday in mass protests that ended in violent clashes with police. Several journalists were among those hit by rubber balloons and tear gas canisters fired by the police.

A police raid on a university last Saturday sparked more outrage at police brutality and swelled the ranks of protesters demanding political consequences for Boluarte and her cabinet.

Boluarte, 60, apologized for the way the university raid was carried out on Tuesday, but praised police for their “impeccable behavior” during last week’s Lima protests. She called for a “national truce” and said violent groups, some of them from Bolivia, were wreaking “chaos and anarchy” for political purposes.

The lawyer and former civil servant, originally from Apurimac in the southern Andes, addressed the protesters, claiming in Quechua that she was one of them.

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