Conflicts & War

Police clamp down on fresh anti-Merino protests in Peru

Lima, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- Peruvian police clamped down on a group of protesters outside the country’s parliament building in the early hours of Sunday morning while sources close to Manuel Merino, who became president this week in what his critics have described as a coup, said he has no intention of bowing to popular demand.

Former speaker of the house Merino was sworn into the presidency on Tuesday following the controversial removal of Martín Vizcarra.

After violent protests on Saturday left two dead, dozens injured and at least 20 people missing, police agents withdrew to the vicinity of the Legislative Palace, the seat of Congress, in the Peruvian capital Lima.

Protesters marched peacefully toward the building, waving Peruvian flags and shouting slogans accusing Merino of being responsible for the deaths on Saturday.

Police officers stood back at first, allowing the demonstration to go ahead, but when protesters decided to sit down on the street opposite the congress building.

Soon after, a large police deployment arrived and began to fire tear gas at the protesters and journalists in the area.

Local TV broadcast images of police detaining at least one protesters while officers used their shields to hit journalists trying to cover the incident.

One of the leaders of the protesters said: “We have seen an ambush, we are a majority in our nation, the 18 to 39-year-olds are more than 50%, we decide who governs and who does not… we are the counterbalance to the de facto government.”

Merino has not made any announcements on the protests, which have prompted Congress to ask him to resign.

In the early morning, a photograph of him meeting with members of his cabinet was circulated by the press. In the image, Merino, who was not looking toward the camera, could be seen meeting with the prime minister, Ántero Flores-Aráoz, and other members of the government, including the interior minister, Gastón Rodríguez, who two hours later tendered his resignation.

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