Peru: Parliament’s new refusal, protests continue

Peru’s parliament on Thursday rejected a new proposal to hold elections and a referendum on a constituent assembly by the end of this year in hopes of quelling the current wave of protests.

The bill, introduced by the leftist Peru Libre party, was rejected by 75 delegates, while 48 voted in favor and two abstained.

“The reform did not reach the number of votes (…) so the bill was not approved”, Congress President Jose Williams declared after the debate lasted a little over four hours.

After this fourth rejection, MP Jaime Quito, the author of the resolution, declared that “Congress must be closed. What will happen is that Dina Boluaarte will have to resign”.

The demand was reiterated by protesters, mostly from the Andean region, who took to the streets of the capital Lima again on Thursday.

In Dos de Mayo Square, hundreds marched to demand the resignation of President Boluaarte and the return of former President Pedro Castillo.

– “Historical Responsibility” –

“Let her (Dina Boluarte) resign as soon as possible, and let elections be held as soon as possible,” said Marie Ucra, a 30-year-old ceramist from the José Domingo district of Chocuhuanca in Puno (south).

Anti-government protests in Lima on February 2, 2023 (AFP – Ernesto Benavides)

Protesters also attacked the “soldiers of the press” and showed distrust towards journalists in general, as they believe their coverage favors the Peruvian government.

In the morning, dozens of others gathered outside the headquarters of the country’s major private television stations to express their discontent.

In southeastern Peru, some women from the Aymara community, accompanied by children, shouted slogans against the police.

The protests have already claimed 48 lives in seven weeks.

It is the fourth time since December that Congress has rejected a bill to advance a vote scheduled for April 2024. On Wednesday, after a third rejection, the presidency launched a new initiative to “immediately” hold elections in October this year.

The unrest broke out following the 7 December dismissal and arrest of leftist President Pedro Castillo, who was accused of attempting a coup by seeking to dissolve parliament, preparing to oust him from power.

She was replaced by her vice president, Dina Boluaarte, in early December with a view to fulfilling her predecessor’s mandate until 2026.

In December, Congress pushed the elections to April 2024, but the president is pushing the legislature to move the elections to this year in hopes of hushing the dispute.

On Sunday, Ms Bolluarte tried to mount pressure on parliament, speaking of a “historic responsibility”.

Parliament is divided among more than ten political parties, not counting independents. No party has an absolute majority and each vote must be subject to negotiation and coalitions.

The left, which voted against early elections, wants any new ballot to be linked to a referendum on a new constitution, but the question remains one of the main points of contention within parliament.

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