Peru’s Interim President Steps Down After Two Protesters Killed by Police
Story Code : 898093
In a televised address to the nation, Merino announced his resignation and insisted he acted within the law when he was sworn into office as chief of state on Tuesday, following the congress’s removal of the elected president in an impeachment vote.
News of the resignation was followed immediately by the sound of honking car horns, pot banging and cheers in neighborhoods across the Peruvian capital.
The death of two men in their 20s from gunshot wounds on Saturday boosted the public clamor for Merino’s resignation.
The victims were the first deaths in nearly a week of unrest over the controversial removal of Martin Vizcarra as president and his replacement by a de facto government, regarded by many Peruvians as a coup.
Peru’s human rights coordinator reported that more than 40 people were missing following Saturday’s march amid multiple reports of heavy-handed police repression against largely peaceful demonstrators. The health ministry reported that more than 90 people were being treated for injuries.
Images from the protests on Saturday showed hundreds of riot police using batons and shields against largely peaceful protesters, teargas and buckshot being fired directly at crowds or individuals and tanks using water cannon. There were even reports of teargas being fired from helicopters flying overhead in downtown Lima, from where protesters reported street lights being switched off and mobile phones blocked during the march.
Daily protests mounted during the week, culminating in nationwide demonstrations demanding the resignation of Merino, the former speaker of congress, with tens of thousands of people filling the streets of Lima and dozens of towns and cities.
“There was irrational, abusive use of force in Lima. I demand that the president of the republic shows his face and gives explanations to the country,” said Peru’s human rights ombudsman, Walter Gutierrez.