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Peru’s 6th President in 6 Years Seeks to Calm the Waters

Peru's 6th President in 6 Years Seeks to Calm the Waters, EFE

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The sixth person since 2016 to occupy Peru’s presidency signaled Thursday that her priority will be to overcome the extreme polarization and dispel the specter of ongoing instability.

Dina Boluarte, the Andean nation’s first woman president, was sworn-in Wednesday after Congress voted to remove leftist incumbent Pedro Castillo on the grounds of “permanent moral incapacity” just hours after he ordered the dissolution of the legislature and called for the election of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.

Multiple members of Castillo’s Cabinet resigned and Vice President Boluarte echoed lawmakers in labeling the move a coup.

The ousted president’s own security detail arrested him and took him to police headquarters in Lima, short-circuiting Castillo’s plan to request asylum at the Mexican Embassy.

In her first press conference as head of state, Boluarte was non-committal about a proposal to advance the presidential election, currently set for 2026.

The call for early elections is “respectable, democratically,” she said, though adding that the time for weighing alternative ways to “better re-orient the country’s destiny” will be in the coming months.

Boluarte also said that she had yet to decide on the composition of her administration, including the identity of the new prime minister.

“Certainly there are many questions to ask me, but understand also that the circumstances in which I have assumed this high responsibility are not the most optimal,” she said.

Following the session with reporters, Boluarte met with lawmakers from five different parties in line with her appeal “to work in unity for the good of Peruvians,” the presidential office said.

Representatives of the center-left Democratic Change and Peru Bicentennial parties, the conservative We Are Peru and Country Advance parties took part in the discussion.

Popular Force, the party led by Keiko Fujimori, daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, also took part.

In parallel with the developments at the presidential palace, Judge Juan Carlos Checkley ordered Castillo held in preventive detention for seven days on charges of rebellion.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was the first to reveal Castillo’s request for asylum in the Aztec nation, said Thursday that he will leave it to Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard to decide if and when to officially recognize Boluarte as Peru’s president.

While ruling out a rupture in diplomatic relations, the Mexican leader expressed unease over the process that led to Castillo’s ouster and said that Mexico would consider the erstwhile president’s asylum request.

Castillo, 53, was a schoolteacher with no previous experience of public office when he ran for president. He prevailed narrowly over Keiko Fujimori – in a runoff.

Hailing from the poor northern region of Cajamarca and without allies among the traditional governing elite in Lima, Castillo faced hostility from the opposition-controlled Congress and allegations of corruption practically from the moment he took office in July 2021.