Peru’s president urges Congress to bring forward general elections amid protests

The Peruvian president, Dina Boluarte, who has said she is leading a transitional government, urged the country’s Congress to pass a proposal to bring forward general elections in a news conference from the presidential palace on Saturday.

Boluarte, formerly Peru’s vice-president, assumed the presidency earlier this month after ex-president Pedro Castillo tried to illegally dissolve Congress and was arrested.

Since then, protests have broken out across the country, and at least 17 people have been killed. Another five have died as an indirect consequence of the protests, according to authorities.

Boluarte also countered protesters asking for her to step down, saying “that does not solve the problem” and that she had done her part by sending the bill to Congress.

On Friday, Peru’s Congress rejected the proposed constitutional reform to move elections forward to December 2023. Some members of Congress have called for the legislature to reconsider the proposal.

“I demand that the vote to bring elections up be reconsidered,” Boluarte said, criticising Congress members who had previously abstained from voting.

Protests since the arrest of the former president Castillo, who is in pre-trial detention while facing charges of rebellion and conspiracy, have crippled Peru’s transport system, shuttering airports and blocking highways.

On Wednesday, Boluarte’s government announced a state of emergency, granting police special powers and limiting citizens’ rights, including the right to assembly.

Protesters have also blockaded Peru’s borders, leaving tourists stranded and strangling trade.

“We want the immediate closure of Congress; we want the resignation of Dina Boluarte,” said Rene Mendoza, a protester at the border with Bolivia. “Today, the Peruvian people are in mourning … The whole of Peru is in a struggle.”

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