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Peru’s president urges Congress to bring elections forward, after lawmakers turn down bill

Peru's President Dina Boluarte (C) attends a meeting with mayors and governors at the Government Palace, in Lima, Peru December 17, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Peru’s interim President Dina Boluarte has urged the country's Congress to pass a proposal to bring forward general elections after lawmakers voted down a bill to hold early elections next December.

"I demand that the vote to bring elections up be reconsidered," Boluarte said while speaking in a news conference from the presidential palace on Saturday.

She criticized Congress members who had previously abstained from voting on the motion.

Boluarte also dismissed calls for a constitutional assembly, saying it was "not the time."

She was reacting to a call by some leftist leaders who wanted the assembly established. If formed, the assembly would redraft Peru's 1993 constitution to boost the state's role in the economy.

Boluarte added that there would be a reshuffling of her cabinet in the coming days as well, following the resignation of education and culture ministers on Friday.

"We will have a recomposition of the cabinet, to be able to install knowledgeable ministers in each sector," she said.

The cabinet resignations have raised questions about the longevity of Boluarte's government, which has been rocked by political turmoil.

This came after earlier on Saturday, Boluarte turned down calls for her resignation, saying nothing would “be solved by my resignation.”

The South American nation has been embroiled in violent protests since December 7, when then President Pedro Castillo was impeached and arrested, after attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.

Protesters are calling for Castillo's release, the resignation of Boluarte and closure of Congress, and immediate general elections.

At least 18 people, including minors, have been killed so far.

On Wednesday, Boluarte's government announced a state of emergency, granting police special powers and limiting citizens' rights, including the right to assembly.

Protesters have also blockaded Peru's borders, leaving tourists stranded and strangling trade.

The head of Peru's armed forces, Manuel Gomez, slammed protesters during the news conference, saying, "These bad people are moving from actions that are violent to actions that are terroristic."

Peru has had five presidents since 2016, including Castillo, who was elected to serve from 2021 to 2026.

Castillo had gone through two unsuccessful impeachment proceedings and was facing investigations for alleged involvement in the activities of a “criminal organization.”

He had denied the allegations, saying “economic interest groups” were looking to oust him.

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