Peru’s new president Castillo calls for elections as he speaks

Peru's new president Castillo calls for elections as he speaks
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The new president of Peru Dina Boluarte In a televised address early Monday morning, he proposed bringing the general election back two years to April 2024 amid ongoing protests across the country.

“Having interpreted the will of the citizens… I have decided to take the initiative to reach an agreement with the Republican Congress to advance the general elections to April 2024,” Boluarte said in a televised speech.

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

He initially ruled out early elections last week, but protests calling for political change in the country have left at least two people dead and prompted the United Nations Human Rights Office to express concern about rising tensions.

“As the protests in Peru continue to escalate, we are deeply concerned that the situation could escalate,” said her spokeswoman Marta Hurtado. “Given the number of protests planned for this week, including strikes, we urge everyone involved to exercise restraint.”

Since last week, protests have started in various cities of the country in support of Castillo, who is currently in 7-day preliminary detention by the decision of the Supreme Court of Peru and who does not accept Boluarte’s removal from office, calling him a “usurper”.

According to radio and television broadcaster Radio Programas del Peru, the demonstrators called for the next general elections, the dissolution of Congress and the creation of a new constituent assembly.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman of Peru, protesters also demonstrated in the city of Andahuaylas on Saturday, as a result of which at least 20 people, including four police officers, were injured.

Peru’s Health Ministry said on Sunday evening that two people died and three people were hospitalized in the Apurimac region of Andahuaylas province as a result of the protests.

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

Part of the message reads: “I am unreservedly loyal to the people and the constitutional mandate that I have as President and I WILL NOT ABUSE, I WILL NOT ABANDON MY SACRED AND SACRED FUNCTIONS.”

Castillo also claimed she was “abducted,” “humiliated” and “mistreated,” according to a handwritten letter posted to her account on Monday, and called for her release.

Castillo’s attorney, Ronald Atencio, confirmed the authenticity of the letter and tweets to CNN. The tweets on his behalf were authorized by the former president.

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 Rodríguez Ballon airport in Arequipa, Peru’s largest southern city, was temporarily closed on Monday due to protests, Peruvian Andean Airports said in a tweet from the country’s Ministry of Transport and Communications.

“Our Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón airport in the city of Arequipa was occupied by a group of protesters who entered through the perimeter fence, destroyed security infrastructure and set fire to the security gate, putting the safety of passengers, our team and air operations at risk,” the statement said.

Footage of the scene showed smoke in the distance as protesters walked down the airport runway.

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

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

Footage from the southern city of Ica showed a car overturned and protesters blocking streets. Police were seen clashing with protesters who threw stones at the forces.

On Sunday, at least 50 people, including police officers and airport staff, were being held “hostage” after attacks and “acts of vandalism” by protesters at the Huancabamba de Andahuaylas airport in Andahuaylas, Peru’s Airports Corporation. and Commercial Aviation said in a statement.

The organization said the airport was closed as a result, adding that they had asked the national police for support and reinforcements and help “to protect the lives of the hostages.” The organization did not provide information on the condition of the hostages.

Peru’s Airports and Commercial Aviation Corporation accused the protesters of setting fire to the airport’s transmission room, fuel room and besieging the terminal with “acts of violence”. He also said the runway and major equipment were “severely affected”.

The country has been on the brink since Castillo’s ouster last week.

Many Peruvians are calling for a change in the political guard, with 60% of respondents supporting early elections to renew both the presidency and Congress, according to a September poll by the Institute for Peruvian Studies (IEP).

Boluarte’s ascension to the presidency won’t necessarily ease Peru’s toxic and angry political landscape.

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

“Everyone knows when Dina Boluarte’s government started, but no one can be sure how long it will last.

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