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'Peru is fired up': Protesters, police clash as political crisis flares

'Peru is fired up': Protesters, police clash as political crisis flares

Demonstrators confront riot police during a protest in Lima against the ousting of popular president Martin Vizcarra by Congress. (Photo: AFP/Ernesto Benavides)

LIMA: Peruvians protesting the abrupt ouster of president Martin Vizcarra clashed on the streets of Lima on Thursday (Nov 12) night with riot police, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The clashes, and other more peaceful protests in the capital and other cities, are piling pressure on a fragmented Congress and the new government of Manuel Merino.

Vizcarra, a politically unaffiliated centrist who is popular with voters, was ousted on Monday in an impeachment trial over allegations he received bribes, an accusation he denies.

Merino, a member of the center-right Popular Action party who had been Congress head, swore in his new cabinet on Thursday and called for calm.

Demonstrators clash with police during protests following the impeachment of President Martin Vizcarra, in Lima, Peru on Nov 12, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Sebastian Castaneda)

"All of Peru is fired up, we're all very angry," said Jose Vega, a protester in Lima, where some carried banners comparing Merino to the coronavirus pandemic and saying he did not represent them.

"They treat us poorly. We've only come to protest against injustice ... We are all feeling pain. So, I'm saying to everyone let's not give up."

Demonstrators run away from tear gas during a protest in Lima. (Photo: AFP/Ernesto Benavides)

Vizcarra oversaw an anti-graft campaign that led to frequent clashes with Congress in a country that has a history of political upheaval and corruption.

The crisis precipitated by his departure has rattled the world's No. 2 copper producer and seen its sol currency hit 18-year lows.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Lima and cities across the country. (Photo: AFP/Ernesto Benavides)

International human rights groups have expressed concern about use of force by police against protesters and the Organization of American States has called for Peru's Constitutional Court to give clarity to the situation.

"We're in the streets spontaneously and peacefully defending Peruvian democracy from an abuse by Congress," said Gino Costa, a lawmaker from the progressive Morado Party who joined Thursday's protests.

Source: Reuters/zl


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