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Delay in confirmation vote on new cabinet fuels angry protests in Peru

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This handout picture released by the Peruvian presidency press office shows Peru's President Pedro Castillo (L) congratulating newly sworn-in Chief of Staff Mirtha Vasquez during a ceremony in Lima, on October 6, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Clashes broke out in Peru between the police and supporters of President Pedro Castillo, following a street protest that came in the wake of opposition-led Congress pushing back a confirmation vote on the country's new cabinet.

On Monday, police in riot gear used water cannon to disperse the angry protesters who were holding placards that read “Close Congress”.

The country’s Congress was scheduled to vote on the new cabinet from Monday, but it postponed the confirmation vote to next Thursday in order to mourn the death of lawmaker Fernando Herrera Mamani, who belonged to the official Free Peru party and died of a heart condition on Monday.

The postponement will prolong the uncertainty over the fate of the new cabinet of Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez, the second to be nominated by President Castillo in less than three months in office.

In a speech to the Congress earlier in the day, Vasquez, a moderate leftist, said she was seeking a new "governability pact".

She said the administration would back private investment and submit a tax reform proposal meant to fund social programs.

Peru is the second largest producer of copper in the world, and the mining sector is a key source of tax revenue.

Vasquez was appointed as the country’s premier, hours after Guido Bellido, a senior Free Peru member, was asked by Castillo to resign as prime minister on October 6 following a period of political instability.

Under Peruvian law, Congress must approve or reject a new cabinet in the weeks following its nomination.

It is still unclear whether the Congress would confirm the cabinet or not. The Socialist president has strained ties with the Marxist-Leninist Free Peru party that helped him to power and some lawmakers said they would vote to reject the new cabinet.

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