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As public anger mounts, Peru lawmakers reject reform needed to hold snap elections


As Peru explodes in protest as supporters of its former president take to the streets, lawmakers on Friday rejected a constitutional reform needed to hold a snap general election in 2023.

Calls for snap presidential and parliamentary elections have grown since former President Pedro Castillo was ousted from power last week after trying to dissolve Congress and install an emergency government.

On Thursday, Castillo’s successor, President Dina Boluarte, had asked Congress “to take the best options to reduce delays and carry out the necessary reforms” to organize early elections.

“Here we will all have to go: executive and legislative,” she said.

But only 49 legislators voted in favor of the change to speed up the electoral process, with 33 against and 25 abstentions, failing to reach the 87 votes necessary for the adoption of the reform.

“The constitutional reform that changes the term of office of the President, First Vice President and members of Congress elected in the 2021 elections and establishes the electoral process (and) the 2023 general elections has not been approved,” announced Congress Speaker Jose Williams.

A review of the vote is now pending, Congress later said on social media.

Castillo, a former teacher and labor leader from rural Peru, will remain in pretrial detention for 18 months, the country’s Supreme Court ordered Thursday, as crowds of his supporters demonstrated outside the courthouse and across the country.

At least 20 people died in the unrest and at least 340 people were injured, according to the Ombudsman’s office on Thursday. Ongoing protests have also stranded hundreds of tourists after the Peruvian rail operator suspended trains to the region.

So far, however, lawmakers have seemed resistant to change. “Unfortunately, they did not hear and understand the demands of the people and they rejected the early elections, so they have the right to stay in office until 2026,” Omar Cairo, professor of constitutional law at CNN, told CNN. the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. .

Peru’s legislative body is already viewed with skepticism by the public. The president and members of congress are not allowed to serve consecutive terms, according to Peruvian law, and critics have noted their lack of political experience.

A poll published in September 2022 by the IEP showed that 84% of Peruvians disapproved of the performance of the congress. Legislators are perceived not only to pursue their own interests in Congress, but are also associated with corrupt practices.

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