Peru president sworn in after protests

Marco Aquino
·1-min read

Peruvian lawmaker Francisco Sagasti has been sworn in as interim president, voted for by Congress in an effort to return stability to a country that has seen deadly protests and the departure of two presidents in the past week.

Sagasti, a legislator from the centrist Purple Party, is expected to serve out his term until July next year, with a new presidential election scheduled for April 11.

The Andean nation has been shaken since the abrupt ouster in an impeachment trial of popular leader Martin Vizcarra on November 9.

The removal of Vizcarra, whose anti-graft agenda had caused tensions with Congress, triggered often violent protests in which two young people died.

Vizcarra's successor, Manuel Merino, resigned on Sunday after just five days in power.

Sagasti's appointment has appeared to calm tensions, though a deep mistrust of the country's politicians remains. On Monday night, hundreds of people marched in the capital Lima, with calls for a new constitution and "justice for the fallen".

Sagasti, 76, an engineer and former World Bank official, has yet to name his cabinet but has said he is open to including ministers from Vizcarra's government, which could open the door to the return of star economy minister, Maria Antonieta Alva.

Sagasti is Peru's fourth president in less than three years after the departures of Vizcarra and Merino and the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in 2018 on allegations of corruption.

Peru, the world's No.2 producer of copper, has been hit hard this year with one of the world's deadliest per capita outbreaks of COVID-19 and is expected to post its worst annual economic contraction in a century.