Peru’s Castillo impeached and arrested, Boluarte sworn in as new president



CNN

Dina Boluarte became Peru’s first female president on Wednesday, ending a dramatic day in which her predecessor was accused of rebellion and impeached by lawmakers.

Bolhuarte, the country’s former vice president, took the top job in Congress and was sworn in to become Peru’s sixth president in five years.

The ceremony came hours after a majority of 101 members of the 130-member legislature voted to impeach former leader Pedro Castillo.

The difficult day began after then-President Castillo dissolved Congress and announced a plan to install an emergency government ahead of a vote on impeachment by lawmakers in what Peru’s Ombudsman described as an “attempted coup d’état.”

He also called for parliamentary elections to work on a new Constitution.

The move prompted several cabinet resignations, backlash from top officials and condemnation from regional neighbors, and ultimately failed to prevent his impeachment in Congress.

Peru’s armed forces rejected Castillo’s attempt to oust lawmakers, calling it a “violation of the constitution.”

Boluarte himself criticized Castillo’s removal plan, describing it on Twitter as “a coup that exacerbates the political and institutional crisis that Peruvian society must overcome with strict adherence to the law.”

Castillo was arrested on Wednesday in the prefecture of Lima.

International officials joined the chorus of condemnation of Castillo, with the United States urging the leader to “reverse” the move and “allow Peru’s democratic institutions to function according to the Constitution,” said Lisa Kenna, the US ambassador to Peru. He said on Twitter.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement: “We will continue to oppose and resolutely reject any actions that contradict the Peruvian constitution and undermine democracy in that country.”

Argentina’s foreign ministry said it was “deeply concerned” about Peru’s political crisisA message on Twitterand Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Castillo’s actions were “inconsistent with the constitutional framework of this country, [and] represents a violation of democracy and the rule of law.”

In a stunning turn of events, Castillo was arrested by police in the capital city of Lima after lawmakers impeached him in Congress.

Dina Boluarte of Peru will be sworn in as president on December 7, 2022 in Lima.

Photos shared by the prefecture show the former president wearing a blue jacket and sitting around a table as officials sign documents.

Peru’s attorney general’s office said in a statement that Castillo was arrested for the crime of rebellion, “for violating the constitutional order.”

“We condemn the violation of the constitutional order,” Peru’s attorney general, Patricia Benavides, said in a statement. “The Political Constitution of Peru reinforces the separation of powers and establishes that Peru is a democratic and sovereign republic … No government can place itself above the Constitution and must fulfill its constitutional mandates.”

CNN has reached out to Castillo’s defense team for comment on the allegations.

It was a humiliating end to Castillo’s short tenure. The former schoolteacher and union leader was narrowly elected in a run-off in July 2021, seen as part of a “pink wave” of new left-wing leaders in Latin America.

He ran on a platform that promised to rewrite the Constitution and increase the redistribution of wealth by giving states more control over markets and natural resources, fighting against rising inflation in Peru, his lack of political experience, and strong conservative opposition in Congress.

The leftist leader’s government has been in disarray since his inauguration, with dozens of ministers appointed, replaced, sacked or fired in less than a year – adding to pressure on him.

Since his first day in office, Castillo has faced off against the opposition for trying to remove him from office. He accused Benavides of orchestrating a new kind of “coup d’état” against him through his office’s investigation.

In October, Benavides filed a constitutional complaint against Castillo based on three of the six investigations his office had opened. The petition allows Congress to conduct its own investigation against the former president.

Castillo has faced a cascade of investigations into whether he used his position to gain influence or preferential treatment to benefit himself, his family and his closest allies, among other allegations.

Castillo has repeatedly denied all allegations and reiterated his willingness to cooperate with any investigation. He claims that these allegations are the result of a hunt against him and his family by groups that did not accept his election victory.

Lawmakers stand inside Congress on the day of a vote to impeach President Pedro Castillo in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.

The ex-president is facing five preliminary criminal cases on charges of organizing corruption schemes while in office. Among them are allegations by prosecutors that he led a “criminal network” that interfered with state institutions such as the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Housing and Peru’s state oil company, controlled open tender processes and benefited specific companies and close allies.

Prosecutors are also investigating whether the former president tried to influence the promotion process of officers in the armed forces and the national police.

Those investigations also target Castillo’s family, including his wife and sister-in-law. Former First Lady Lilia Paredes is being investigated on suspicion of coordinating a criminal network. Her lawyer, Benji Espinosa, insisted on her innocence, arguing that the investigation against the former first lady contained “a number of flaws and omissions.”

Police officers stand guard as crowds gather after President Pedro Castillo announced on December 7 that he would dissolve Peru's Congress.

His sister-in-law, Jenifer Paredes, is under investigation for alleged involvement in a criminal organization, money laundering and aggravated collusion. He was in custody until the court revoked his 30-month “preventive detention”. He also denied any wrongdoing.

“My daughter, my wife, my whole family was attacked because they wanted to destroy me because they didn’t want me to finish my term, I promise you, I’m going to finish my term, I’m not corrupt,” Castillo said. On October 20, during a televised speech from the presidential palace.

In the same speech, Castillo acknowledged that some of his close associates should face trial on corruption charges, saying, “If they betray my trust, let them be brought to justice.”

President Bolhuarte’s reputation was also tarnished by a constitutional investigation that was rejected by Congress on December 5.

His ascension may not necessarily ease Peru’s toxic and fractious political landscape, as he needs cross-party support to govern.

Meanwhile, many Peruvians are calling for a full recovery. According to a survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP), in September 2022, 60% of Peruvians say they support early elections to renew the presidency and Congress.



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