Peru impeachment protests: Clashes with police turn deadly

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Protester carries a Peruvian flag during clashes in Lima on 14 November 2020Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Protesters carried the Peruvian flag during Saturday's rally

Two people have died in clashes in Peru's capital Lima between police and protesters angry at the impeachment of President Martín Vizcarra.

Several people were injured in the violence that saw police fire tear gas into the crowd of many thousands.

Peru has been rocked by mass protests since Congress voted on Monday to impeach Mr Vizcarra over alleged bribery - charges he denies.

Speaker of Congress Manuel Merino has taken over as interim president.

There are concerns of a growing political crisis as Peru faces a severe economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators - many of them young - gathered again in Lima and other cities on Saturday for protests that were for the large part peaceful.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
A number of people were injured

The capital echoed with sirens, shouts and chants of protesters demanding the removal of Mr Merino, Reuters reports.

Clashes broke out towards the evening after a group of hooded protesters threw fireworks and stones at the police, who responded with tear gas.

Two men, one aged 24 and the other 25, were killed.

Image source, Getty Images

Mr Vizcarra, 57, has enjoyed continued support among many voters for his attempts at reform.

He has been embroiled in a bitter battle with Congress, which is dominated by rival parties, since he took office in March 2018.

Last year, the president dissolved Congress, arguing that lawmakers were obstructing his anti-corruption agenda. A new Congress was elected in January, but tension remained high between the legislative and the executive, with Mr Vizcarra accusing lawmakers of fostering "chaos and disorder".

Mr Vizcarra has denied allegations that he accepted bribes worth 2.3m soles ($640,000; £487,000) when he was governor of the southern Moquegua region.

Monday's move in Congress came after a previous attempt to remove him. An earlier vote held on 18 September fell far short of gaining the necessary votes when only 32 lawmakers cast their ballot in favour of removing Mr Vizcarra.

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Peru has seen days of protests

Mr Vizcarra had previously said he would accept the impeachment vote, not take any legal action, and leave the presidential palace. But on Tuesday, he questioned the "legality and legitimacy" of his removal.

"Legality is in question because the Constitutional Court has not yet ruled, and legitimacy is given by the people," he told reporters outside his home in Lima.

Mr Merino is expected to retain the presidency until July 2021 - when Mr Vizcarra's term was due to end.