Peru president paves way for early elections after two killed in latest protests
Peru’s new president, Dina Boluarte, has announced in a nationally televised address that she will send Congress a proposal to move forward the general elections in the wake of widespread protests.
Boluarte said early on Monday that she would submit a bill to bring general elections forward two years, to April 2024.
Her decision comes after two young people died and four were injured during Sunday’s protests demanding elections following the ousting of former president Pedro Castillo over his attempt to dissolve Congress.
A 15-year-old and an 18-year-old died “possibly as a result of gunshot wounds” during clashes with police on Sunday in the city of Andahuaylas, in the Andean region of Apurimac, the head of Peru’s ombudsman’s office, Eliana Revollar, told local radio station RPP.
Baltazar Lantaron, the governor of the Apurimac region, told local television station Canal N that “four injuries are reported, treated at the health centre, three of them [with wounds] to the scalp, with multiple injuries”.
Thousands of demonstrators took to streets across the nation again on Sunday, including hundreds in Lima, the capital, where riot police used teargas to push protesters back.
The protests rocking Peru heated up particularly in rural areas, strongholds for Castillo, a former schoolteacher and political newcomer from a poor Andean mountain district. Protesters set fire to a police station, vandalised a small airport used by the armed forces, and marched in the streets.
Congresswoman Maria Taipe Coronado said the 15-year-old boy died of an injury during the protest as she made an impassioned plea for Boluarte to step down.
“The death of this compatriot is the responsibility of Mrs Dina for not submitting her resignation,” said Taipe, who is affiliated with the party that helped Castillo and Boluarte to their election last year as president and vice-president respectively before both were kicked out of that party. “Since when is protesting a crime?”
“The life of no Peruvian deserves to be sacrificed for political interests,” Boluarte tweeted on Sunday following Taipe’s speech in Congress. “I express my condolences for the death of a citizen in Andahuaylas. I reiterate my call for dialogue and to put an end to violence.”
Boluarte was sworn in last week after Castillo was sacked by Congress and arrested for attempting to shut down the legislature in an effort to prevent an impeachment vote against him.
Demonstrators, many of them Castillo supporters, have for days demanded that Peru hold elections rather than allow Boluarte to stay in power until Castillo’s term officially ends in 2026. Some protesters have also called for Congress to be shuttered.
The Peruvian Corporation of Airports and Commercial Aviation, which manages the country’s airports, reported the closure of the Andahuaylas airport following attacks and acts of vandalism since Saturday.
Protesters had set fire to the transmitter room, which is crucial for providing navigation services, it added.
The ombudsman’s office said on Saturday two police officers had been held for hours by protesters in Andahuaylas, but were later released. Clashes on Saturday left 16 civilians and four policemen injured, it said.