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Peru declares state of emergency over anti-government protests

Supporters of ousted President Pedro Castillo clash with police forces in the Peruvian city of Juliaca, on January 7, 2023. (Via AFP)

The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in the capital Lima and three other regions due to anti-government protests that have claimed the lives of at least 42 people in recent weeks.

The state of emergency, announced late Saturday, will initially be in force for 30 days, authorizing the army to take necessary measures such as restricting movements to maintain law and order across the cities.

The move came after Peru's President Dina Boluarte made clear that she will not step down despite the protesters demanding her resignation.

“Some voices coming from the violent and radical groups demand my resignation, bringing people to chaos, disorder, and destruction. I say to them responsibly that I will not step down,” Boluarte said.

Boluarte blamed the recent deaths on bad influences that had pushed citizens into "confrontations" and that she requested authorities to investigate.

Peru has been hit by back-to-back protests ever since former president Pedro Castillo was ousted and detained in early December amid his attempt to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.

The protesters now want Boluarte, who replaced Castillo, to resign and make way for the former head of state to resume power. They are also calling for the dissolution of Congress, early elections, and reforms in constitutional law.

Castillo, an indigenous Peruvian and former school teacher, is the first president from outside the country's political elite. He first became known for leading the national teachers' strike in 2017.

He then became a member of the Free Peru union and ran in the 2021 election to improve the lives of Peruvians contending with a recession worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While campaigning to redraft the constitution, Castillo promised to raise taxes on mining firms and use mining revenues to improve education and health services. Peru is the world’s second-largest copper and zinc-producing country.

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