Conflicts & War

Peru’s new president open to the idea of early elections

Lima, Dec 9 (EFE).- Peruvian President Dina Boluarte said Friday that she is prepared to consider moving up the election now scheduled for 2026 in the wake of the abortive coup by ousted head of state Pedro Castillo.

In response to a reporter’s question, she said that under Peru’s constitution, her administration should continue until the end of Castilo’s five-year term, which began in July 2021.

The erstwhile vice president indicated, however, that her position on the matter was not set in stone.

“If society and the situation warrants it, we move up elections,” Boluarte said. “In conversation with the democratic and political forces of Congress, we will sit down to talk.”

Peru’s first woman president said she expected to swear-in a new Cabinet by mid-day on Saturday and in that regard, she appealed to the leftist Peru Libre party – under whose banner Castillo was elected – to participate in the new administration.

Boluarte took the oath of office Wednesday after Congress voted to remove Castillo on the grounds of “permanent moral incapacity” just hours after he ordered the dissolution of the legislature and called for the election of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.

Multiple members of Castillo’s Cabinet resigned and Boluarte echoed lawmakers in labeling the move a coup.

The ousted president’s own security detail arrested him and took him to police headquarters in Lima, short-circuiting Castillo’s plan to request asylum at the Mexican Embassy, and he remains in preventive detention on charges of rebellion.

On Friday, lawmaker Guido Bellido, who was prime minister for the first few months of Castillo’s government, told the media that the deposed president has no memory of making the speech to the nation Wednesday morning.

“The president does not remember,” Bellido said, suggesting that Castillo had been drugged.

The former schoolteacher’s hands were shaking as he addressed the nation a few hours before Congress was due to vote on a motion to remove him from office, which was expected to fail.

“It’s strange that a president who was not going to be removed due to a lack of votes, ends up providing the arguments for his removal,” Bellido said.

“Castillo’s psychological state as he read the message to the nation made it evident that he was not in possession of his faculties,” the congressman wrote earlier on Twitter. “I urge a toxicology exam and the Attorney General’s Office should access the security cameras at the (presidential) palace.”

Boluarte said Friday that she and the other members of the government were all shocked by Castillo’s speech dissolving Congress and she expressed a desire to “visit him at some point and learn what happened.”

The main public event of her second full day as president was a visit to army headquarters in Lima on the occasion of the 198th anniversary of the Battle of Ayacucho, a turning point in Peru’s independence struggle.

Accompanied by the heads of the judiciary and Congress, Boluarte said that Peru is “strong and secure” thanks to the role of the armed forces in guaranteeing order, respect for the constitution, “the rule of law and the separation of powers.”

She urged Peruvians to put “the chapters of confrontation” behind them.

“It is now or never, beloved compatriots. Peru cannot stop. United like the victors of Ayacucho, we will succeed in bestowing stability, growth and tranquility on the worthy, great and heroic nation that is our homeland,” Boluarte said.

Castillo, 53, had no previous experience of public office when he ran for president and narrowly won in a runoff against rightist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori

Hailing from the poor northern region of Cajamarca and without allies among the traditional governing elite in Lima, Castillo faced hostility from the opposition-controlled Congress and allegations of corruption practically from the moment he took office in July 2021.

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