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  HOME | Peru

Merino’s Support in Peru Weakens amid Global Criticism

LIMA – Political support for the transitory government of Peru, chaired by legislator Manuel Merino, showed its first cracks Friday in Congress, coupled with the massive rejection and international criticism for the excessive use of force to quell demonstrations against him.

After the massive protests that occurred on Thursday at the national level, two legislative benches that at first supported Merino’s takeover announced they would not give confidence to the cabinet chaired by the conservative Antero Flores-Araoz.

While Merino remains silent, despite numerous criticisms of his legitimacy, countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain joined the pronouncements of international organizations such as the United Nations to respect democracy and the right to protest in Peru.

Merino, who was president of congress, was sworn in Tuesday as transitional president of Peru after 105 of the 130 legislators dismissed Vizcarra for “moral incapacity” following allegations, still under preliminary investigation, that he received bribes when he was governor of Moquegua region.

However, the solid parliamentary support for Vizcarra’s departure was rejected in a massive way by Peruvians, who say he should have finished his term on July 28 to be investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted.

This has been reflected in mass protests at the national level rejecting the removal of Vizcarra, against Merino’s inauguration, and displeasure with the political class in general.

Faced with this massive citizen movement, the first bench to announce its decision Friday not to support the new cabinet of ministers was the Popular Agricultural Front of Peru (Frepap).

Frepap Spokeswoman Maria Teresa Cespedes said her bench, whose 15 members voted for the removal of Vizcarra, will not give confidence to the cabinet because “the people are not supporting them” and Merino “has to listen to the people.”

“They are going to have to go and ask for a vote of confidence. Frepap will say no to them, because we do not agree with that cabinet,” she said on local airwave Radio Exitosa.

Shortly after the announcement of this group, the Frente Amplio de Izquierda, in which six of its eight members also voted for the removal of Vizcarra, reported that it will not give approval to the cabinet.

This group, criticized for having supported the dismissal that generated the great social instability in the country, said it rejects the appointment of the prime minister, a veteran conservative politician, and will not give him a vote of confidence.

In addition to the pronouncement of these two benches, legislators Hans Troyes and Orlando Arapa, from the Popular Action party (AP), said they would not support the cabinet either, despite belonging to the same group as Merino.

So far, it is assumed that the cabinet will also be rejected by the nine members of the Purple Party, who voted against the removal of Vizcarra and Spokesman Francisco Sagasti. It said on Friday that he does not generate “the slightest confidence.”

Despite the great political instability facing his country, Merino has made no appearance in public or issued a statement in recent hours.

However, he sent a letter to the secretary-general of Popular Action to grant his party membership a license until July 28, 2021, when he must complete his mandate.

In the document, which was published by local media, Merino said that he wishes to “keep the party free of responsibility for any act of government” and said that during the Monday vote, all the members of his caucus acted “with full freedom of conscience, total independence, conviction and no influence on the party.”

The president maintained this after Troyes said on Thursday there was pressure within his bench for the parliamentarians to vote for the dismissal under the threat that their projects would not be approved.


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