Peru interim president urges calm as demonstrations escalate
By Marco Aquino LIMA (Reuters) - Peru's interim President Manuel Merino called for calm on Thursday amid protests that have escalated around the country since the abrupt ouster of former leader Martin Vizcarra. Merino, who is preparing to inaugurate a new cabinet in the coming hours, accused 'presidential candidates' for the upcoming elections of inciting protests that have broken out in Lima and other cities and urged Peruvians to maintain peace.
By Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) - Peru's interim President Manuel Merino called for calm on Thursday amid protests that have escalated around the country since the abrupt ouster of former leader Martin Vizcarra.
Merino, who is preparing to inaugurate a new cabinet in the coming hours, accused "presidential candidates" for the upcoming elections of inciting protests that have broken out in Lima and other cities and urged Peruvians to maintain peace.
"We understand the difficult situation that the country is going through, and I believe that in the next few hours we are able to give peace of mind to all Peruvians," Merino said in a radio interview.
Merino assumed office on Tuesday after the Andean nation's fractured Congress voted to oust Vizcarra over bribery allegations. The political shakeup comes as Peru, pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic, is bracing for its worst economic contraction in a century.
Crowds of hundreds have gathered in the streets for days to protest the Congress vote, with dozens of demonstrators detained after clashes with police who have at times used tear gas. Plans for new protests on Thursday circulated on social media.
Human rights organization Amnesty International issued a statement accusing Peru's national police of using excessive force with protesters and journalists.
"Amnesty International reiterates that the excessive use of force in controlling demonstrations is unacceptable and violates human rights obligations that Peru has contracted and all its authorities must respect," the statement said.
The Organization of American States (OAS) also expressed concern on Wednesday over the "new political crisis in Peru," urging the country's Constitutional Court to weigh in.
The political turmoil has shaken markets with Peru's sol currency dipping 0.39% on Thursday to an 18-year low.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; additional reporting by Maria Cervantes; writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Alistair Bell)
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