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Peru’s Interim President Resigns After Deadly Protests

Peru’s interim president Manuel Merino has resigned after being in office for only five days.

His decision followed nearly a week of violent protests in the country following the impeachment of former President Martin Vizcarra.

The protests, which started Monday and continued six nights in a row, left at least two persons dead and 94 injured on Saturday night.

“I want to make it known to the whole country that I irrevocably present my resignation for the office of the presidency and I call for peace and unity for all Peruvians,” Merino told the nation on Sunday.

“My commitment is with Peru and I will do everything in my power to guarantee a constitutional succession and for Congress to determine in order for Peru to move forward.”

In his final address, he said all Cabinet members had presented resignation offers as the crisis unfolded, but that he intends to keep ministers in place until the situation is cleared in order to avoid creating a power vacuum.

Protesters gather outside Congress in Lima, Peru, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, after interim President Manuel Merino announced his resignation following massive protests unleashed when lawmakers ousted President Martin Vizcarra. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

At least eight Cabinet ministers were confirmed to have resigned between Saturday and Sunday according to state press agency Andina.

Merino was the President of Congress until he was appointed interim president after Congress impeached Vizcarra over corruption allegations on Monday. Vizcarra has denied the allegations.

Protesters, opposition parties and civil society called Vizcarra’s ouster a legislative coup and refused to recognise Merino as the new president.

Merino became Peru’s third president in less than five years. Vizcarra took office in 2018 after former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned amid corruption allegations and impending impeachment. Vizcarra was Kuczynski’s Vice President.

Following Merino’s resignation, Congress called for a plenary session on Sunday to discuss the appointment of the next president. Presidential elections are scheduled for April of next year.

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