Sun, 29 Jan 2023

Peru's New President Says She Is Open to Early Election Talks

Voice of America
10 Dec 2022, 09:06 GMT+10

lima, peru - Peruvian President Dina Boluarte said Friday she was willing to discuss early elections with the country's political and civil organizations but ruled out kick-starting constitutional changes for the time being.

Boluarte, who took office on Wednesday, just hours after her predecessor Pedro Castillo was ousted, called for calm as protests broke out in support of the former president.

Early morning footage on local television showed hundreds of farmers blocking a stretch of Peru's main coastal highway demanding early elections.

'If society and the situation warrants bringing forward elections, then in conversation with the democratic and political forces in Congress, we will sit down to talk,' she told reporters.

'I am not the one who caused this situation, I am only fulfilling the constitutional role,' she said, calling on the 'sisters and brothers who are coming out in protest ... to calm down.'

A supporter of ousted President Pedro Castillo jump kicks at a police officer during a protest in Lima, Peru, Dec. 8, 2022. A supporter of ousted President Pedro Castillo jump kicks at a police officer during a protest in Lima, Peru, Dec. 8, 2022.

Later Friday, Boluarte said she had received a call expressing support from Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez.

'He expressed his support and collaboration in the framework of the strengthening of our democracy, bilateral relations and regional policies,' she said on Twitter.

Boularte, who is a 60-year-old lawyer, served as vice president while Castillo served as president. In replacing him, she became the first woman to assume the country's presidency and is set to hold the post until 2026 if no fresh elections are called.

Asked about calls from some leftist parties to draft a new constitution, Boluarte said the long-standing demand should not be abandoned but it was not something she wanted to do in the short term.

'I think this is not the time. Right now, Peru is going through a political crisis, and we still need to solve the economic and food crisis,' she said.

Flanked by police trying to keep order, supporters of ousted President Pedro Castillo march while demanding his return to power, Dec. 9, 2022. Flanked by police trying to keep order, supporters of ousted President Pedro Castillo march while demanding his return to power, Dec. 9, 2022.

She said she would name her new cabinet members on Friday or Saturday.

Boluarte said she plans to visit Castillo in prison, adding his 'coup d'etat surprised us all, including his ministers.'

Castillo tried to dissolve Congress just hours before he was removed from office in an impeachment vote. He was detained and is now facing criminal charges.

Mexican authorities said Thursday they had started talks with Peru on Castillo's request for asylum there. On Friday afternoon, Peru's foreign ministry summoned the Mexican ambassador and said statements by the country's leaders relating to the matter constituted an 'interference in Peru's internal affairs.'

Peru's abrupt change of leadership has had limited effects on markets so far. Analysts said economic and financial institutions in the world's No.2 copper-producing nation remain resilient to political volatility.

However, Boluarte, who called for a political truce in her first speech as president, will have to be careful to avoid the fate of other leaders who left the post before their terms ended.

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