In growing crisis, Peru seeks a third president in a week

LIMA – Peru woke up Monday morning still looking for a new head of state after lawmakers failed to name the third president in a week overnight.

Interim leader Manuel Merino resigned Sunday after the overthrow of his predecessor, centrist Martin Vizcarra, sparked protests last week and dragged the country into a constitutional crisis.

Congress is now looking for a replacement to prepare the country for next April elections. In a midnight vote, the legislature failed to choose the only name proposed at the time, RocĂ­o Silva-Santisteban, a left-wing human rights defender.

The country’s fragmented and unpopular legislature will vote again at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT) Monday if another name is on the list: lawmaker Francisco Sagasti, a 76-year-old industrial engineer and former World Bank official.

The political upheaval is adding to the uncertainty facing Peru, number 1 in the world. 2 Copper producer already badly hit by COVID-19 and heading for the worst economic decline in a century.

Vizcarra was charged with corruption charges by Congress last week and removed from office, which he denies.

Merino, who led the impeachment as President of Congress, succeeded Vizcarra. But he too resigned after two people died in protests against his young government and the legislature threatened to prosecute him if he did not resign.

“There is a political immaturity from some and a lack of self-confidence from others about what has happened in the country over the past week,” Legislator Alberto de Belaunde of the centrist Morado Party told reporters.

Sagasti has now named his party the third president of Peru in a week.

“The main thing for Peru is to regain stability and end this nightmare,” added de Belaunde.

In the midst of uncertainty, Peru’s markets and currencies have come under pressure. Bonds rose and fell on Monday morning.

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