Peru Interim President resigns as political protests turn deadly

LIMA, Peru—As the United States grapples with the aftermath of the recent presidential election and President Trump’s legal battle and refusal to concede, Peru has gone through its third president in a week. 

Less than one week after being sworn in as interim president, Manuel Merino has resigned. It has been a week of political upheaval since former President Martin Vizcarra was removed by legislators on Nov. 9. 

Merino, who was head of Congress, became president on Nov. 10, but lasted less than a week and resigned on Monday amid protests and opposition from Peruvians who refused to recognize his authority and legitimacy as president.

Fransisco Sagasti becomes the third president in a week as he was elected as the country’s interim president by a 97-26 vote. He will be Peru’s president until national elections take place in April 2021. 

Merino promised to quell the political unrest, but the situation turned dire when two protestors were killed by police on Saturday. By Sunday, most of Merino’s Cabinet resigned, and Congress asked him to resign.

In his two years in office, Ex-President Vizcarra fought to end corruption throughout the country’s legislature. Half of the lawmakers are under investigation or indictment for alleged crimes including money laundering and homicide. 

Because of his crackdown on corruption, Vizcarra ruffled a lot of feathers and as a result made more than a few political enemies. Coincidentally, President Vizcarra was removed by the legislature after accusations of the very corruption he was fighting against. 

Last week, law makers invoked an obscure clause of the country’s constitution to remove the president for “moral incapacity,”—accusing him of accepting more than $630,000 in bribes as governor of a local province years ago. Accusations that Vizcarra denied. 

Vizcarra spoke out about the political unrest, asking the country’s highest court to weigh in: “It can’t be that the institution that got us into this political crisis, that has for five days paralyzed Peru, with deaths, is going to give us a solution, choosing the person who they best see fit.” 

Hopefully Peru can keep its current president for longer than a week, and the people can bring change in 2021. 

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Source: NPR

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