Peru’s new president calls for elections as Castillo speaks

Peru’s new president calls for elections as Castillo speaks

Peru’s new president calls for elections as Castillo speaks


Peru’s new president Dina Boluarte proposed moving forward the general election by two years, to April 2024, in a televised speech delivered early Monday morning amid ongoing protests across the country.

“Interpreting the will of the citizens… I have decided to take the initiative to reach an agreement with the Congress of the Republic to bring forward the general elections to April 2024,” Boluarte said in the televised address.

Boluarte became Peru’s first female president last week after lawmakers ousted her predecessor Pedro Castillo.

He initially ruled out snap elections last week, but protests calling for political change ensued across the country, killing at least two people and prompting the United Nations Human Rights Office to express its concern over the escalation of tensions.

“With violence escalating as protests continue in Peru, we are deeply concerned that the situation could escalate further,” said its spokeswoman Marta Hurtado. “Given the number of protests, including strikes, planned for this week, we ask all parties involved to exercise restraint.”

Since last week, protests have erupted in cities across the country in support of Castillo, who is currently undergoing a seven-day preliminary arrest ordered by Peru’s Supreme Court and has not accepted his removal, calling Boluarte a “usurper”.

Protesters have called for another general election, the dissolution of Congress and the creation of a new constituent assembly, according to Radio Programas del Perú radio and television station.

Protesters also demonstrated in the city of Andahuaylas on Saturday, which left at least 20 injured including four police officers, according to Peru’s ombudsman office.

Peru’s health ministry said on Sunday evening that two people had died and three had been hospitalized in the Apurímac region, where Andahuaylas province is located, as a result of the protests.

Castillo insisted on Monday that he is still the president of Peru, according to a series of tweets posted on his Twitter account. He was impeached for trying to dissolve the nation’s Congress and calling new elections.

“I am unconditionally faithful to the popular and constitutional mandate that I hold as President, and I DO NOT RESIGN NOR ABANDON MY HIGH AND SACRED FUNCTIONS,” reads one part of the message.

Castillo also claimed he was “kidnapped,” as well as “humiliated” and “abused,” and called for his release, according to a handwritten letter that was also posted to his account on Monday.

Castillo’s attorney, Ronald Atencio, verified the authenticity of the letter and tweets to CNN. The tweets were authorized by the former president to be written in his name.

Protesters take over the Pan-American highway in Arequipa, Peru on December 12, 2022.

Police officers clash with protesters in Arequipa, Peru on December 12, 2022.

Alfredo Rodriguez Ballon Airport in Peru’s largest southern city, Arequipa, was temporarily closed on Monday due to protests, according to a statement from Peru’s Andean Airports, tweeted by the country’s Transport and Communications Ministry.

“Our Alfredo Rodriguez Ballón airport in the city of Arequipa was invaded by a group of protesters who entered through the perimeter fence, destroying the security infrastructure and setting fire to the security gate, which jeopardized the safety of passengers, of our team and of the air operations at risk”, reads the press release.

Images from the scene showed smoke in the distance as protesters walked the airport runway.

The airport evacuated those inside the terminal and officials later told local media on Monday that the situation was “under control”.

“The situation in Arequipa is under control, the police are in control of the airport (inside). We ask citizens to exercise their right to protest but in a peaceful way and not to put people’s lives at risk,” Angel Manrique of the Arequipa Ombudsman Office said in an interview with local RPP radio on Monday.

In footage from the southern city of Ica, a vehicle was overturned and protesters blocked the streets. Police were seen clashing with protesters, who threw stones at the forces.

At least 50 policemen and airport workers were also held as “hostages” on Sunday after attacks and “vandalism” by protesters at the Huancabamba de Andahuaylas airport in the city of Andahuaylas, the Peruvian Corporation of Airports and Commercial Aviation he said in a statement.

As a result, the airport was closed, the organization said, adding that it had asked for support and reinforcement from the national police and to help “safeguard the lives of people who are being held hostage”. The organization did not provide information on the conditions of the hostages.

Peru’s Corporation of Airports and Commercial Aviation accused protesters of setting fire to the airport’s transmission room, fuel bay and surrounding the terminal in “acts of violence,” it said in a statement. He also said the airstrip and essential equipment were “seriously affected”.

The country is on the verge of Castillo’s ouster last week.

Many Peruvians have called for a change of political guard, according to the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP) September poll, which found 60 percent of respondents supported snap elections to freshen up both the presidency and Congress.

Boluarte’s ascension to the presidency may not necessarily alleviate Peru’s toxic and embittered political landscape.

Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla, professor of political science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), told CNN that Boluarte “does not have a recognized political career. And without partisan support, political parties or social organizations behind him, he is weak from the start ».

“Everyone knows when Dina Boluarte’s government started, but nobody can be sure how long it will last,” he said.

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