Peru’s Congress cautiously endorsed a plan on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 to hold early elections in an attempt to resolve the national political catastrophe marked by deadly unrest after lawmakers ousted President Pedro Castillo.
The proposal, approved by 91 of the legislature’s 130 members, would push elections for president and congress up to April 2024. Originally, it was scheduled for 2026.
The plan which seeks to add one article to Peru’s constitution, must be approved by another two-thirds majority in the next annual legislative session for it to be adopted.
The measure has the support of President Dina Boluarte, who took over from Castillo after the former schoolteacher tried to dissolve Congress on December 7, 2022.
This move was widely condemned by even his leftist supporters though it touched off deadly nationwide protests that continue. After the failed attempt, Castillo was swiftly arrested
The early elections proposal failed to garner enough votes last week after leftist lawmakers abstained, conditioning their support on the promise of a constitutional assembly to overhaul Peru’s political charter; something that conservatives denounce as putting Peru’s free market economic model at risk.
On Tuesday, they dropped that demand.
“Don’t be blind,” Boluarte said over the weekend, criticizing lawmakers for not listening to voters’ demands.
“Look at the people and take action in line with what they are asking,” Boluarte added.
But even as Boluarte seeks to restore order, her caretaker government is being buffeted by fellow leftists.
Prominent among them is Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has sharply critized Peru’s conservative media and business establishment for the classist way it portrayed Castillo during his 17-month presidency.
Peru Expels Mexican President
On Tuesday, December 20, 2022, Boluarte’s government expelled Mexico’s President, López Obrador. Peru declared him persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country within 72 hours.
According to the government, the expulsion is in protest of what it said was López Obrador’s repeated and “unacceptable interference” in Peru’s internal affairs.
“The statements by the Mexican President are especially grave considering the violence in our country, which is incompatible with the legitimate right of every individual to protest peacefully,” Peru’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Peruvian statement was issued hours after López Obrador’s government said that it was granting asylum to Castillo’s family, which took refuge at Mexico’s embassy in Lima and is awaiting safe passage out of the country.
Mexico’s President has reiterated his willingness to grant asylum to Castillo, who was intercepted by protesters and security forces while trying to flee to the Mexican Embassy in Lima after his attempt to dissolve Congress backfired.
Boluarte, who has the backing of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has struggled to restore order since Castillo’s arrest.
In several parts of the country, protesters who voted for her and Castillo’s ticket last year have defied a 30-day state of emergency and taken to the streets to demand her immediate resignation.
Lawmakers will virtually be throwing themselves out of work if they decide to push elections to an earlier date.
Under Peru’s constitution, the 130 members of Congress are entitled to serve only a single term.