Peru’s Congress elects new interim leader amid political turmoil

Amid a political turmoil in Peru which was triggered by the impeachment of former President Martin Vizcarra last week and followed by the resignation of his successor Manuel Merino, the country’s Congress has elected Francisco Sagasti as the new interim leader.

As a member of the Purple Party, Sagasti won a majority of 97 votes in Congress on Monday, after a failed election the previous day and tense negotiations that went on for more than 48 hours, reports Xinhua news agency.

In his first speech after being elected, Sagasti, a 76-year-old engineer and academic, pledged to do “everything possible” to restore hope to the people and show them that “they can trust us (politicians)”.

“It is not a moment of celebration. We have too many problems, tragedies and difficulties. It is a moment of reflection, it is time to ask ourselves where we lost our way, improve and move towards a better future,” he added.

According to the country’s Constitution, Sagasti will serve as the President until July 28, 2021.

His successor will be decided following the presidential election due in April next year.

Sagasti’s appointment came a day after Merino, who was appointed last week following Vizcarra’s impeachment, resigned on Sunday following widespread protests that broke out across the country after he assumed the post.

He made the announcement after the Peruvian Congress held a crisis session on Sunday and asked him to resign amid the social protests, which killed at least two people.

After Vizcarra was removed from office November 9 for alleged bribery, thousands of people across the country staged some of the largest protests in decades.

The week-long rallies descended into chaos on November 14.

At least 112 people were injured, some after inhaling tear gas, and 41 were still missing, according to Peru’s National Human Rights coordinator.

At least nine had suffered gunshot wounds, health officials said.

Peru’s recent political shake-up came as the South American nation was battling the coronavirus pandemic.

It has so far reported nearly 935,000 cases and more than 35,000 deaths, making it the country with the third highest rate of fatalities per 100,000 people in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Also what is expected to be Peru’s worst economic contraction in a century, the International Monetary Fund has projected a 14 per cent decline in the country’s gross domestic product this year.