Peru at boiling point: Army and police side with president in standoff against parliament

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The Peruvian military and police pledged loyalty to President Martin Vizcarra after he was accused of launching a coup by dissolving parliament. The opposition, meanwhile, voted to remove him from office.

The slow-burning political crisis in Peru reached the boiling point after Vizcarra dissolved the opposition-controlled parliament on Monday and called for a new general election in January.

“May this exceptional measure allow citizens to finally express themselves and decide the country’s future at the polls,” he said in a televised address.

Vizcarra previously threatened to dissolve parliament if the opposition continues to block his anti-graft bills. The president finally decided to make the move after lawmakers voted to replace almost all Constitutional Court judges despite his objections.

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While Vizcarra insists that his actions are completely legal, parliament declared them to be unconstitutional and “a threat to democracy.” Lawmakers then voted to remove Vizcarra from office and swore in Vice President Mercedes Araoz as acting president of Peru.

Vizcarra has made it clear that he will not step down. Shortly after dissolving the parliament, he met with the chiefs of the army, navy, air force, and police, with all of them affirming their loyalty to him as president. 

“Martin Vizcarra is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru,” the military later said in a statement.

At the same time, rallies were held in various cities in support of Vizcarra and his move to dissolve parliament. 

Not everyone is cheering him on, though. Several prominent figures, like former Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi and veteran politician Lourdes Flores, blasted Vizcarra’s actions as a “coup d’etat.”

During his election campaign, Martin Vizcarra championed the fight against corruption, which has plagued the nation for decades. His predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, was forced to resign last year over allegations of graft and vote-buying.

Vizcarra’s primary opponents come from the Popular Force (FP) party, whose leader, Keiko Fujimori, is currently being held as part of a corruption investigation. She is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving jail time for corruption and embezzlement.

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