Peru has been embroiled in a political crisis with almost daily protests since December 7.
Peru’s congress has rejected embattled President Dina Boluarte’s request to move elections to December 2023, as protests that have killed dozens rage against her leadership.
Lawmakers last month agreed to move the election from 2026 to April 2024. But in a plenary session held in the early hours of Saturday, Congress rejected the proposal by 45 votes to 65 with two abstentions.
The left-wing parties demanded that the progress of the elections be accompanied by a constitutional convention – something the protesters called for repeatedly.
“This vote rejects the proposal for constitutional reform to advance elections,” Congress President Jose Williams said after more than seven hours of debate.
After the vote, Williams won a request for “reconsideration,” which could be discussed Monday in a new session, although it would be difficult to overturn the decision.
The South American country has been gripped by a political crisis with almost daily protests since December 7, when then-President Pedro Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.
The protesters demanded Boluarte’s dismissal, as well as immediate elections after the dissolution of Congress, and a new constitution.
“I have no interest in remaining in the presidential position. If I am here, it is because I fulfilled my constitutional responsibility,” Boluarte insisted.
As Castillo’s vice president, Boluarte was constitutionally mandated to replace him after Congress impeached and arrested him.
Demanding that Boluarte resign and call elections, the protesters – mostly Castillo’s supporters in poor and rural areas – erected roadblocks, causing shortages of food, fuel and other essentials.
In the seven weeks of protests since the arrest of the former president, 47 people have been killed, according to the Office of the Ombudsman of Peru.
The autonomous human rights office said another 10 civilians – including two babies – were collateral deaths when they could not get medical attention or medicine due to roadblocks.