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Peruvian president asks cabinet for anti-corruption pledge

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LIMA, Peru — Peru’s new president, Dina Boluarte, was sworn into her cabinet on Saturday just three days after becoming the country’s first female head of state and asked every minister to pledge not to be corrupt during his tenure.

The 16 ministers chosen by Boluarte, who was elevated on Wednesday from vice president to replace ousted Pedro Castillo as leader, will be key to further embitter or calm a South American country in the throes of a seemingly political crisis. endemic.

Boluarte presented her government amid protests across Peru calling for her resignation and the scheduling of general elections to replace her and Congress.

Boluarte on Saturday asked each of the eight men and eight women to swear or promise to perform their duties “fairly and faithfully without committing acts of corruption”.

Fluent in Spanish and Quechua, Boluarte was elected vice president on the presidential slate that brought the center-left Castillo to power last year. She was Minister of Development and Social Inclusion during the 17 months of administration of Castillo, a rural teacher with no prior political experience.

Boluarte, 60, replaced Castillo after he stunned the country by ordering the dissolution of Congress, which in turn dismissed him for “permanent moral incapacity”. He was arrested for rebellion. His failed push against the opposition-led Congress came hours before lawmakers launched a third impeachment attempt against him.

Castillo has gone through more than 70 Cabinet members during his administration. Some of them have been accused of wrongdoing.

Boluarte said she should be allowed to hold the position for the remaining 3½ years of her term. But protesters are calling for new elections. Some of those demonstrating for Castillo have called her a “traitor”.

On Saturday, several highways were still blocked by demonstrators demanding the closure of Congress, the resignation of Boluarte and new elections.

“Congress kicked us and made fun of the popular vote,” protester Mauro Sánchez said in Lima, where police used tear gas to end protests that began on Wednesday. “Let’s take to the streets, let’s not let ourselves be ruled by this mafia congress.

Peru has had six presidents in the past six years, including three in a single week in 2020 when Congress relaxed its impeachment powers.

The struggle for power in the country continues as the Andes and its thousands of small farms struggle to survive the worst drought in half a century. Without rain, farmers cannot plant potatoes and the dying grass can no longer feed the herds of sheep, alpacas, vicunas and llamas.

The government has also confirmed that over the past week Peru has experienced a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections. The country has recorded around 4.3 million infections and 217,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Boluarte lacks support in Congress. Like Castillo, she was expelled in January from the far-left party with which the pair was elected president and vice-president.

Omar Coronel, professor of political science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, said an important variable for Boluarte’s government will be its ability to manage waves of discontent and generate a coalition in Congress that can support it but which at the same time “is not an aberration for the left.

Associated Press writer Franklin Briceño contributed to this report.

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