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Peru: President Boluarte urges early elections in 2023

January 28, 2023

Lawmakers already voted to bring elections forward to April 2024 from 2026, in the face of unrelenting protests sparked by former President Pedro Castillo's arrest.

 Peru's President Dina Boluarte speaks as she meets with foreign press, in Lima, Peru
Formerly vice president, Dina Boluarte automatically became Peru's president after Pedro Castillo was arrested in DecemberImage: Angela Ponce/REUTERS

Peru's recently appointed President Dina Boluarte urged Congress on Friday to advance the presidential elections from April 2024 to December 2023.

Her comments come at a time when the country remains embroiled in civil unrest opposing her leadership, which has left dozens of people dead. Boluarte became president after her predecessor, Pedro Castillo, was impeached and later arrested.

What did Boluarte say?

The Peruvian Congress have already voted to move national elections up earlier than planned, holding the vote in April 2024 instead of April 2026.

An even earlier vote in December this year, however, could help Peru ''get out of this quagmire we're in,'' Boluarte said. 

''Nobody has any interest in clinging to power. I have no interest in remaining in the presidency. If I am here it is because I fulfilled my constitutional responsibility," she said, speaking at a military airport where an aircraft was being loaded with emergency aid for regions affected by unrest-induced shortages.

Protesters march on Lima as Peru political crisis deepens

How has Congress responded?

After debating the proposal for 8 hours, Peru's Congress rejected Boluarte's request. The proposal to move elections up to December this year received 65 votes against it, 45 votes in favor and two abstentions.

However, a request for reconsideration was submitted, according to Congress President Jose Williams, which could be debated on Monday.

In order to move elections up earlier, a constitutional reform is necessary — but such reforms require a two-thirds majority of 87 lawmakers in order to be approved. It also requires a second vote of approval during the next legislative period, which is slated to begin in February.

Why are the protests still ongoing?

Boluarte, who was vice president to President Pedro Castillo, automatically became Peru's leader on December 7 after Castillo was arrested for attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.

In the weeks thereafter, Castillo's supporters have led violent protests nearly everyday and blocked important routes within the country.

This has caused severe food and fuel shortages in southern regions. At least 47 people have died in the clashes with security forces.

Peru's armed forces will support the police to lift the blockades on highways, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

mk/rs (AFP, AP, EFE)