President resigns less than a week into the job

By BBC On Mon, 16 Nov, 2020 09:33 | 2 mins read
Manuel Merino
Peru's interim President Manuel Merino announces his resignation in a televised address, in Lima, Peru, Nov. 15, 2020. PHOTO | PERUVIAN PRESIDENCY

Peru’s interim president has resigned, a day after two people died during protests against his government.

Manuel Merino, former speaker of Congress, had been in the post less than a week.

He replaced President Martín Vizcarra after he was impeached on Monday over bribery allegations, which he denies.

Senior politicians had called for Mr Merino’s resignation after a violent crackdown on demonstrations against him.

Twelve ministers from his recently appointed cabinet resigned earlier on Sunday in protest against police brutality and his handling of the crisis.

Congress failed to agree a replacement for Mr Merino when it met on Sunday, rejecting a team led by Rocío Silva Santisteban, a writer and former human rights activist.

A new list, made up of an interim president and senior politicians from across the spectrum, was being drafted.

Why were there protests?

Tens of thousands of demonstrators – many of them young – have been taking part in protests against Mr Vizcarra’s removal in recent days.

They accuse Congress of staging a parliamentary coup. Mr Vizcarra, 57, has enjoyed continued support among many voters for his attempts at reform.

Saturday’s protests in Lima were largely peaceful but clashes broke out towards the evening between police and protesters.

Police reportedly fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to repel demonstrators, some of whom had thrown fireworks and stones.

Two students, Jack Pintado, 22, and Inti Sotelo, 24, were killed in the protests.

“I want to let the whole country know that I’m resigning,” Mr Merino said in a televised address.

There are concerns of a growing political crisis as Peru faces a severe economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Peru imposed one of the earliest and strictest lockdowns in Latin America to stop the spread of coronavirus – but has still seen cases rise rapidly.

It has so far reported nearly 935,000 infections and more than 35,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University – making it the country with the third highest rate of deaths per 100,000 people in the world.

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