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Thousands of Peruvians march in capital Lima, demanding president's ouster

Protesters clash with the police in the Peruvian capital city of Lima on November 5, 2022. (via social media)

Thousands of Peruvians have held a protest march in the capital Lima, demanding President Pedro Castillo to quit over alleged corruption and economic misrule.

The participants packed the streets of Lima on Saturday, prompting the police to use tear gas to prevent them from reaching the parliament and the presidential palace. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The embattled head of state, who took power last year for a five-year term, and his cabinet are under investigation for corruption.

The protesters held up national flags and signs emblazoned with anti-government slogans.

Similar demonstrations called by political groups and civil associations took place in other cities around the country.

"We see a government involved in corruption and Congress doesn't react," said Lucas Ghersi, a conservative lawyer who is one of the organizers of the march.

Castillo has already survived two impeachment attempts, and is also the target of a complaint by the country's attorney general, who has accused the president of running a criminal nexus involving his family and allies.

He calls his opponents "reactionaries" and "the enemies of people," denying that his family has committed crimes and saying he is the victim of a campaign to remove him from power.

"They will have me until the last day of my term because my people have decided so," Castillo said earlier in the day from the government palace.

Opposition legislators are pressing for his trial, although he cannot be criminally tried while holding office.

Counter-rallies where, meanwhile, held involving collectives and unions in Lima's San Martin Square in support of the president.

Castillo declared in October that “a new type of coup d’état has begun” against him after prosecutors filed a constitutional complaint against him in Congress.

“Today, in the morning hours, the execution of a new type of coup has begun in Peru,” Castillo said at a conference with the foreign press, adding that the move against the head of the government was unprecedented in the Latin American country.

He also accused the judiciary of acting “politically,” saying they wanted to legitimize a criminal network.

“They want to legitimize a criminal network and they don’t care about the dignity of people, they don’t care about respect for families,” the president added.

Castillo has faced repeated challenges over whether he has used his presidency to benefit himself and his family. Since assuming power in July 2021, the head of state has faced six preliminary investigations by the Prosecutor’s Office against him, five of them in the hands of Attorney General Patricia Benavides.

The leftist Castello won the presidency in a tight election against right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori.

After Castillo took the lead during the ballot-counting process in the second round of elections, Fujimori disseminated unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud. She is the eldest daughter of the imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori and represents her father’s ideology within Peru, including support for neoliberal economics and opposition to socialism.

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