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  HOME | Peru

Crisis in Peru: Calm, Institutional Silence and Dejection among Opposition

LIMA – One day after the dissolution of the national congress ordered by its president, Peru was awash in quiet and anxiety on Tuesday as the government remained in complete silence amid a growing sense of dejection among the right-wing opposition.

Tuesday also saw a flurry of political and legal analyses that proved that President Martin Vizcarra’s decision to dissolve the unicameral parliament was open to numerous interpretations in terms of its constitutionality and should therefore be reviewed by the constitutional court.

Similarly, the measures taken by the opposition lawmakers who refused to accept the dissolution of the chamber and the call for congressional elections made by the government fell within a constitutional gray area that required interpretation.

And yet, no one formally requested a review from the high court in this regard.

Citizens spent a day without serious incidents – someone just threw a plastic cone at a congressman from jailed former candidate Keiko Fujimori’s party.

A large police presence was seen in the vicinity of the Legislative Palace but there was little tension in the rest of the capital, where activities continued at their own pace.

WHAT DID THE GOVERNMENT DO?

Vizcarra spent the entire day at the Government Palace in downtown Lima meeting with his new prime minister, Vicente Zeballos, who was tasked with forming a government.

There were no institutional statements about the chamber’s dissolution; only images of ministers and former ministers going in and out of the palace were leaked.

Pedro Cateriano – who served as prime minister under President Ollanta Humala – was seen among them, as well as former Economy Minster Alan Garcia Luis Carranza, who was immediately branded a favorite candidate to join the new cabinet.

All of the previous cabinet members formally tendered their resignation following the lead of until-now Prime Minister Salvador del Solar – who stepped down on Monday afternoon – though Vizcarra did not accept all of them.

The ultimate composition of the Zeballos-led government, however, remained unknown.

Numerous governors and senior officials expressed their support for the president’s act of dissolving Congress.

WHAT DID THE OPPOSITION DO?

The combative attitude with which the opposition lawmakers from Fujimori’s Popular Force and allied far-right parties ended the night had become diluted by Tuesday, as the rebel legislators appeared to face defeat at the limited options they have left.

They have failed to amass popular support – though they were backed by one of the main Peruvian business groups – and efforts to rally some international sympathy have so far been lacking.

During the day, police blocked access to the Legislative Palace.

Opposition congressional leaders such as Speaker Pedro Olaechea denounced the dissolution of the chamber as a coup d’etat and painted Vizcarra as a dictator, whom they even accused of sending protesters to harass them and of giving rise to a regime of “Chavista communism.”

Olaechea participated in a meeting with the accredited foreign press in Lima and repeated these ideas there.

The great absentee of the day was Vice President Mercedes Araoz, who on Monday was sworn in as “acting president.”

She did not make a public appearance and limited herself to giving interviews from her home to foreign media while visibly nervous, describing herself as “vice president in charge of Peru.”

Araoz faces currently faces charges brought against her by the attorney general’s office, which accused her of attempting to illegally usurp the presidency.

 

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