Peruvian president asks Congress to bring forward elections amid protests


Peru’s new president, Dina Boluarte, offered to advance the general election by two years to April 2024, during a televised speech early Monday morning, amid ongoing protests across the country.

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

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

She initially ruled out a snap election last week, but protests calling for political change erupted across the country, leaving at least two people dead and prompting the UN Human Rights Office to express concern over the escalation of tensions.

“With the increase in violence as protests continue in Peru, we are deeply concerned that the situation could get even worse,” said spokeswoman Marta Hurtado. “Given the number of protests, including strikes, expected this week, we call on all concerned to exercise restraint.”

Since last week, protests have erupted in cities across the country in support of Castillo, who is currently under a seven-day provisional arrest ordered by Peru’s Supreme Court.

The demonstrators called for new general elections, the dissolution of Congress and the creation of a new constituent assembly, according to radio and television station Radio Programas del Perú.

On Saturday, demonstrators also demonstrated in the city of Andahuaylas, injuring at least 20 including four police officers, according to the office of the ombudsman of Peru.

Peru’s health ministry said Sunday night that two people had died and three were hospitalized in the Apurímac region, where Andahuaylas province is located, following the protests.

Police officers clash with protesters in Arequipa, Peru on December 12, 2022.

On Monday, Alfredo Rodriguez Ballon Airport in Arequipa, the largest city in southern Peru, was temporarily closed due to protests, according to a statement from Peru’s Andean Airports, tweeted by the country’s Ministry of Transport and Communications. .

“Our Alfredo Rodriguez Ballón airport in the city of Arequipa was invaded by a group of protesters who entered through the perimeter fence, destroying the security infrastructure and setting fire to the security gate, which put the safety of passengers , our team and air operations at risk,” the statement read.

Footage from the scene showed smoke in the distance as protesters marched on the airport runway.

The airport evacuated people inside the terminal, and later Monday officials told local media the situation was “under control”.

“The situation in Arequipa is under control, the police have control of the airport (inside). We ask citizens to exercise their right to demonstrate but in a peaceful way and not to endanger the lives of people,” Angel Manrique of the ombudsman’s office in Arequipa said in an interview with local radio RPP on Monday.

In footage from the southern city of Ica, a vehicle was overturned and protesters blocked streets. Police were seen clashing with protesters, who were throwing rocks at the forces.

On Sunday, at least 50 people, including police and airport workers, were also being held as ‘hostages’ after attacks and ‘acts of vandalism’ by protesters at Huancabamba de Andahuaylas airport in the city of Huancabamba de Andahuaylas. ‘Andahuaylas, the Peruvian Airports Corporation. and commercial aviation said in a statement.

The airport was closed as a result, the organization said, adding that it had asked the national police for help and reinforcement and to help “save the lives of those held hostage”. The organization did not provide information on the condition of the hostages.

The Peruvian Airports and Commercial Aviation Corporation accused protesters of setting fire to the airport’s transmission room and fuel room and surrounding the terminal with “acts of violence”, it said. she said in a statement. He also said the airstrip and essential equipment had been “severely affected”.

The country has been on the brink since Castillo was ousted last week.

Many Peruvians have called for a changing of the political guard, according to a September poll by the Institute for Peruvian Studies (IEP), which found that 60% of those polled favored a snap election to refresh both the Presidency and Congress.

Boluarte’s ascension to the presidency will not necessarily appease Peru’s poisonous and embittered political landscape.

Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla, professor of political science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), told CNN that Boluarte “does not have a recognized political career. And with no partisan support, political party or social organization behind her, she has been weak from the start.

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


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