Peru’s congress scraps plan to advance polls as political turmoil drags on

Lima, Jan 27 (EFE).- Peru’s congress has rejected a proposal to move up elections to this year and pull the country out of turmoil due to weeks of deadly anti-government protests.

Angry protesters have been holding almost daily protests across the South American country since Dec.7, when elected leftist President Pedro Castillo was removed and arrested as he tried to dissolve the legislature and call early elections.

The protesters have forced Peru into a deepening crisis by setting up roadblocks on strategic highways to seek new President Dina Boluarte’s resignation, the dissolution of congress, early elections, and the formation of a constituent assembly.

After an eight-hour debate over the proposal to advance the election date to October from April 2024, congress rejected the plan with 45 votes in favor, 65 against, and two abstentions.

Congress president José Williams said a request for reconsideration had been presented and would be taken up on Monday, which implies a new vote.

The proposal needed 87 votes from the 130-member Congress since it was a constitutional amendment.

It did not even receive the 66 votes needed for a referendum.

Constitution Commission president Hernando Guerra-Garcia, an opposition lawmaker from the Popular Force party, had moved the proposal.

Guerra-Garcia said that advancing the poll date was “a necessity” to “give relief” to the country and its people.

He was referring to the anti-government demonstrations that have been going on since December last year.

Guerra-Garcia had proposed to approve special transitory provisions, so the general elections are held in October this year, that the new congress assumes its functions on Dec.31, and the new government takes charge on Jan.1, 2024.

President Boluarte had urged congress to approve the proposal and bring forward the election in response to one of the main demands of the anti-government protests.

She said it would help the country out of the political and social crisis.

On Dec.20, congress decided to allow the holding of national elections in April 2024 rather than the previously scheduled 2026.

Protests have rocked the country since Boluarte, the former vice president, took over after her predecessor Castillo was ousted on Dec.7

The unrest has left more than 60 people dead.

At least 46 protesters were killed in clashes with security forces — 21 in Puno – the worst hit due to the protests.

Some 11 people have died in events related to roadblocks, and one death occurred in the northern region of La Libertad.

A policeman also lost his life after he was set ablaze in Juliaca, the most populous city in Puno.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the death of four Haitians who could not receive medical assistance due to road blockades, in addition to an unborn baby confirmed by UNICEF. EFE

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