Peru Congress rejects snap election, president asks to try again

AFP , Saturday 28 Jan 2023

Peru's embattled president Dina Boluarte on Saturday urged lawmakers to find a way of a deepening political crisis by agreeing to snap elections in December, just hours after Congress voted against the idea.

Peru s President Dina Boluarte
Peru s President Dina Boluarte gives a press conference with foreign media at the government palace in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. AP


In the early hours of Saturday, lawmakers had rejected her request to move elections forward to December, even as anti-Boluarte protests raging across the country have left dozens dead.

"We regret that the Congress of the Republic has been unable to define the date of general elections where Peruvians can freely and democratically elect the new authorities," Boluarte said on Twitter Saturday.

She urged politicians to "put down their partisan interests and place the interests of Peru above them."

The South American country has been embroiled in a political crisis with near-daily protests since December 7, when former president Pedro Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.

Demanding that Boluarte resign and call fresh elections, Castillo supporters have blocked highways, causing shortages of food, fuel and other basic supplies. The government said it will soon deploy police and soldiers to clear the roadblocks.

No interest in 'clinging to power'

Lawmakers had agreed last month to bring forward elections from 2026 to April 2024.

But in the face of relentless protests, Boluarte on Friday urged Congress to move the vote up further, to December.

However, at a plenary session that ended early Saturday, Congress rejected the proposal, with 45 votes in favor, 65 against and two abstentions.

Demonstrators are calling for immediate elections, as well as Boluarte's removal, the dissolution of Congress and a new constitution.

"Nobody has any interest in clinging to power," Boluarte insisted on Friday. "If I am here it is because I fulfilled my constitutional responsibility."

As Castillo's vice president, Boluarte was constitutionally mandated to replace him after he was impeached by Congress and arrested.

The US State Department on Friday urged dialogue and restraint by all parties.

'Everything is very expensive'

In seven weeks of demonstrations, 47 people have been killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, according to the Ombudsman's Office of Peru.

The autonomous human rights office said an additional 10 civilians, including two babies, died when they were unable to get medical treatment or medicine due to roadblocks.

In southern regions, roadblocks have resulted in widespread shortages.

Some of the worst violence and highest death tolls have come when protesters tried to storm airports in the south.

Southern regions with large Indigenous populations have been the epicenter of the protest movement that has affected Peru's vital tourism industry.

As well as blocking dozens of roads and forcing the temporary closure of several airports, protesters have placed rocks on the train tracks that act as the only transport access to Machu Picchu, the former Inca citadel and jewel of Peruvian tourism.

Hundreds of tourists were stranded at the archeological ruins, with many eventually evacuated by helicopter.

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