Thousands rally against Peru president

Marco Aquino
·1-min read

Thousands of Peruvians have taken to the streets again in rallies against President Manuel Merino, while his interim government continued to defend as "constitutional" this week's abrupt ouster of former president Martin Vizcarra.

Prime Minister Antero Flores-Araoz told reporters that Vizcarra's removal on corruption charges by the opposition-dominated Congress was legal, and said Merino had no intention of caving to protesters demands he resign.

"This was a constitutional change," Flores-Araoz said. "We ask people for understanding. We don't want to descend into chaos and anarchy."

Some of the largest protests in decades roiled Peru's capital this week, with dozens injured in clashes between protesters and security forces.

Protesters again jammed many streets and plazas in downtown Lima on Saturday afternoon but the demonstrations remained largely peaceful. In the central Plaza San Martin, hundreds of mostly young protesters unveiled a massive Peruvian flag and sang the national anthem.

Merino, a member of the centre-right Popular Action party who had been the head of Congress, moved quickly to swear in a new cabinet this week after Vizcarra was removed on Monday. He has called for calm and promised to stick with a plan for presidential elections in April.

Vizcarra, a politically unaffiliated centrist who is popular with Peruvians, oversaw an anti-graft campaign that led to frequent clashes with Congress.

The former president has yet to be found guilty of the corruption charges brought against him during the impeachment hearing before his ouster.