Francisco Sagasti became president of Peru, after a week of political crisis

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He is the third president in less than 10 days, following the removal of Martín Vizcarra and the forced resignation of Manuel Merino due to the repression of street protests.

The intellectual Francisco Sagasti, from the centrist Purple Party, sworn in as new president of Peru, the fourth in less than three years, with enormous challenges ahead, but with the support of the outraged citizens who brought down his short-lived predecessor, Manuel Merino.

The 76-year-old engineer and academic was sworn in at a plenary session of the unicamera Congress, which seeks to end the political crisis in the Andean country.

“It is not a moment of celebration, we have too many problems, tragedies and difficulties (…). It is a moment to ask ourselves where it was that we lost our way, “Sagasti said on Monday after being elected as the new head of Congress.

His election as head of Congress, in a vote in which he was the only candidate, automatically made him the new president of Peru, the third to hold office in eight days.

“It is a very good choice for Francisco Sagasti as president,” political analyst Augusto Álvarez Rodrich told AFP. “His election helps to build a moment of political and economic stability, he has good prospects,” he added.

“All young people feel that we have made a small achievement, but it’s not enough. This president has to do something to maintain democracy, but as of April, after the elections, it depends on us, “said Geraldine Aldave, a 22-year-old fashion designer.

The crisis was unleashed on November 9 by Congress itself, when he dismissed in a blitzkrieg impeachment President Martín Vizcarra, of the center-right Peruanos Por el Kambio party, on charges of alleged corruption when he was governor in 2014.

This complaint is now being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office, and the Justice prohibited the former president from leaving Peru for 18 months.

The next day the head of Parliament, Manuel Merino, also from the center-right, took the reins of the country. but thousands of outraged citizens, mainly young people, took to the streets to protest against what they called a “coup”.

The protests, which lasted for five days, fwere violently repressed by the police, with two dead and more than a hundred injured on Saturday night.

The Sagasti Morado Party bench was the only one that voted en bloc against the removal of Vizcarra, which made it clear that he now heads the new transitional government that should lead the country until July 28, 2021, day of the bicentennial of Peruvian independence.

The presidential and legislative elections are called for next April 11.

Sagasti’s choice was greeted by hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Congress building and by passersby and motorists throughout Lima and other cities.

The priorities for his eight-month interim presidency -said Sagasti- will be the coronavirus pandemic -the country accumulates 930,000 infections and 35,000 deaths-, the economic recession, the fight against corruption and insecurity, in addition to conducting clean elections.

It is an agenda similar to the one promoted by Vizcarra, who welcomed Sagasti’s election, stating that he “will be able to support the difficult situation the country is experiencing.” Before, the dismissed president had denounced Merino’s lack of “legality and legitimacy”.

Abandoned by Congress, Merino resigned on Sunday, five days after taking office, cornered by massive protests in which 24-year-old Inti Sotelo and 22-year-old Jack Pintado died, now popularly called “Heroes of the Bicentennial”.

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