Dina Boulwart has been sworn in as Peru’s new president after left-wing leader Pedro Castillo was ousted in an impeachment trial and arrested after trying to illegally shut down Congress.
The opposition-led legislature on Wednesday afternoon voted overwhelmingly to remove Castillo, who earlier in the day announced plans to “temporarily” dissolve the legislature and rule by decree.
Castillo avait declaré que cette décision visait à «retablir l’État de droit et la democratie» in Pérou, mais elle a été largement condamnée by les dirigeants de l’opposition et d’autres, dont Boloart, his son adjoint, as a tentative of “coup”.
Boulwart, 60, was asked by Congress to take over after a vote to impeach her, making her the first woman to lead the South American country. She is sworn in as president until 2026.
Boulwart called for a political truce to overcome the crisis and said that a new government would be formed that includes all political spectrums. After she was sworn in, she said: “There was an attempted coup… It did not find an echo in the institutions or in the streets.”
“What I am asking for is space and time to save the country,” she added.
Prosecutors said Wednesday evening that Castillo was arrested and charged with “rebellion” and “conspiracy” to breach the constitutional order.
Television channels showed the former president leaving a police station and announced that he would be transferred to a police-run prison.
Third attempt at isolation
In central Lima, riot police blocked access to the presidential and congressional palaces as thousands of protesters – some for Castillo’s impeachment, others against him – descended in jubilation and anger.
Amid a wall of heavily armed policemen, hundreds of Castillo’s supporters chanted their full support for the former president’s attempt to dissolve Congress.
“I came here because I’m sick of this corrupt Congress banning everyone [Castillo’s] initiatives. I am a humble rural woman. I don’t have electricity or running water. “After a year and a half, this Congress has done nothing for the people,” said Milagros Rivera Messias, 56, a homemaker from Lima.
Across the street, a jubilant crowd of anti-Castillo protesters danced to the sound of a loud orchestra.
“Castillo is corrupt. He steals money and gives it to his family, and we suffer. Here I sell chocolate to feed my three children and take care of my sick father,” Rosanna Palomino, 30, told Al Jazeera.
A curfew was to go into effect at 10pm (0300GMT) but was later lifted.
Peru has endured years of political turmoil, with many leaders accused of corruption, repeated attempts to impeach them, and shortened presidential terms.
The latest legal battle began in October when the attorney general’s office filed a constitutional complaint against Castillo for allegedly running a “criminal organization” to profit from state contracts and obstruct investigations.
Congress summoned Castillo last week to answer accusations of “moral inability” to rule.
The former left-wing teacher and union leader had called the allegations “defamation” by groups seeking “to profit and profit from the power that people took from them at the ballot box”.
Castillo has survived two previous impeachment attempts since taking office in July 2021 after narrowly winning the election.
In a televised statement Wednesday, Castillo declared an “extraordinary government,” allowing him to use emergency powers to call new elections.
The president of Peru’s Constitutional Court called the decision a “coup” and members of the right-wing opposition called on the armed forces to “restore constitutional order”. Foreign Minister Cesar Landa also resigned, protesting Castillo’s “violation of the constitution”.
The United States echoed those criticisms, urging Ambassador to Peru Lisa Kina Castillo to “reverse her attempt to shut down Congress and allow Peru’s democratic institutions to operate in accordance with the constitution.”
“We encourage the public in Peru to remain calm during this turbulent time,” she wrote on Twitter.
The presidential power to dissolve the Peruvian Congress is controversial and rarely exercised.
In 2019, then-President Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress, which led to its suspension. Then it was lifted.
In 1992 Alberto Fujimori – a polarizing figure imprisoned for human rights abuses – used his presidential powers to dissolve the legislature and suspend the country’s constitution.
Castillo, from the rural town of San Luis de Bona in northwest Peru, has faced allegations of corruption and embezzlement since the start of his presidency. He was also accused of incompetence after appointing five governments and nearly 80 ministers during just over a year and a half as president.
Will Freeman, a Latin American political analyst and doctoral student at Princeton University in the US, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the lack of planning has been “a constant” under Castillo’s short presidency.
“Almost everything from his failed coronavirus recovery response to his battle with the opposition in Congress made it his mission to unseat Castillo almost from day one,” Freeman said in an email.
Freeman added that Castillo’s presidency also ended with an impromptu move. He said, “His haphazard coup attempt found almost no support outside the walls of the presidential palace. »
It seemed like a reckless attempt to avoid being ousted by Congress and facing corruption charges, but it only accelerated those results. “
Peruvians are “tired of the political status quo,” confirmed Noam Lobo, associate professor of political science and co-director of the Latin American Public Opinion Project at Vanderbilt University.
“Peru leads the region in the public perception that corruption is rampant among politicians,” Lobo told Al Jazeera in an email, adding that Castillo’s departure “will not quell” generalized frustrations.
The question now is who will be the next target of the general distrust and dissatisfaction.
With reporting by Neil Giardino in Lima