Peru sees more demos, first protester killed

Lima (AFP) –


Peru saw another day of protests on Saturday and the first death in connection with them as thousands took to the streets in opposition to new President Manuel Merino following the ouster of his predecessor.

The mostly young protesters gathered in various cities to oppose what they call a parliamentary coup against ousted president Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached on corruption allegations on Monday.

Congress Speaker Merino replaced him as Peru's third president in four years.

The public ombudsman's office reported a 25-year-old protester dead with pellet wounds to the head during clashes with police in the capital Lima, the first person killed in the demonstrations that began Tuesday.

Three others were taken to hospital wounded, said Alberto Huerta of the ombudsman's office.

The largest march in Lima attracted thousands of people, with police again using tear gas fired from helicopters to disperse protesters who were threatening to march towards the Congress building.

They carried signs reading "Merino, you are not my president" and "Merino impostor" while chanting.

The municipal authorities in Lima, whose mayor belongs to the same center-right party as Merino, Popular Action, turned off the public lighting in Plaza San Martin on the crowd gathered there.

The plaza has been the center of protests in the capital.

A group of protesters approached the area around Merino's home, east of Lima, banging pots and drums.

Archbishop of Trujillo Miguel Cabrejos urged the government to engage in dialogue and respect the right to protest.

"It is essential to listen and attend to the cries and the clamor of the population to regain confidence, tranquility and social peace," he said in a statement.

Prime Minister Antero Flores Araoz, a 78-year-old conservative politician, ruled out the president stepping aside because of the protests.

When he took office on Tuesday, Merino said he would respect the calendar for the next general elections, scheduled for April 11, 2021 and would leave power on July 28, 2021, the day when Vizcarra's mandate was to end.

Vizcarra had broad popular support since succeeding Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the former Wall Street banker who was forced to resign under threat of impeachment over corruption allegations in 2018.