Peru’s president renews call for elections this year to bring end to protests | Peru
Peruvian President Dina Boluarte has again called on Congress to hold early elections to end weeks of bloody protests, warning that otherwise she will push for constitutional reform to get the vote.
The South American country has been embroiled in a political crisis with near-daily protests since Dec. 7, when then-president Pedro Castillo was arrested after trying to dissolve the congress and government by decree.
Clashes between security forces and protesters have left 48 people dead in seven weeks of demonstrations, according to the Peruvian ombudsman’s office.
Last month, lawmakers pushed back elections due in 2026 to April 2024, but with the protests showing no signs of abating, Boluarte asked for them to be held this year. On Friday, she urged Congress to further increase the vote.
However, in a plenary session that ended early on Saturday morning, Congress rejected the proposal by a vote of 45 to 65, with two abstentions.
The legislature is due to meet on Monday to discuss the election schedule.
Boluarte said that if lawmakers refuse to vote, she will propose constitutional reform so that the first round of elections is held in October and the second in December.
The demonstrators are calling for immediate elections, as well as the removal of Boluarte, the dissolution of the Congress and a new constitution.
“No one is interested in clinging to power,” Boluarte said on Friday. “If I’m here, it’s because I’ve fulfilled my constitutional duty.”
On Saturday, hooded protesters armed with shields, rocks and chunks of cement fought police in a haze of tear gas as Lima became the scene of a brawl and the city’s first death from the protests was recorded.
In recent weeks, Castillo’s supporters have blocked the highway, leading to shortages of food, fuel and other essentials.
The unrest comes mainly from the poor rural indigenous people of southern Peru, who have identified Castillo – an indigenous inhabitant of the same region – as one of their own, who will fight to eradicate the poverty, racism and inequality that they suffer.