Peru’s Congress has rejected a bill to bring forward general elections from 2026 to December 2023 as deadly protests against the impeachment and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo continued across the country.
On Friday, Hernando Guerra, president of the legislative constitution commission, presented the bill and explained that it would allow “enough time” to make corresponding electoral reforms, but failed to gain a congressional consensus broad enough, reports Xinhua news agency.
Failing to get 87 votes needed to pass a proposal, the bill garnered 49 votes in favour, with 33 against and 25 abstentions.
The bill was presented amid a nationwide political unrest following the ouster and arrest of Castillo on December 7 over his alleged “permanent moral incapacity” and the swearing-in of Vice President Dina Boluarte to replace Castillo.
Opposing Boluarte to hold the presidency till 2026, the bill aims to shorten her term of office to April 30, 2024, and Congress’ term to April 28 of the same year.
According to official reports, at least 19 demonstrators have been killed since Sunday in protests demanding Boluarte’s resignation, the shutdown of Congress, Castillo’s release and early elections.
The protesters have burned police stations, obstructed Peru’s main highway and blocked access to airports, stranding hundreds of foreign tourists.
Also on Friday, Peru’s ministers of education and culture handed in their irrevocable resignations to Boluarte in protest against the deaths of the protesters.
The first to quit was Minister of Education Patricia Correa, whose resignation letter, posted on social media, said “the death of compatriots has no justification” and “state violence cannot be disproportionate and cause death”.
Peru, said Correa, is facing a “large scale” political crisis that calls for democratic conviction, and respect for order as well as the life of each Peruvian citizen.
Culture Minister Jair Perez echoed that sentiment in his letter, saying Peru “needs peace and effective dialogue, not more violence”.
He called on authorities “at the highest level and in all branches to reflect and take action to bring peace to the Peruvian people”.
Boluarte said on Friday she plans to personally visit protest sites “to attend to their demands” and achieve “social peace in the country”.
She also “strongly” condemned “some radicals”, saying they were using “their right to mobilise … to attack the police, military, civilians, public and private institutions”.