Peru's head of Congress takes over presidency
LIMA, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- The president of the Peruvian Congress, Manuel Merino, assumed the presidency of the South American country on Tuesday, a day after ex-President Martin Vizcarra was impeached for alleged corruption.
Merino, 59, has a long political career, including serving as a congressman for two periods (2001-2006 and 2011-2016).
Peru's new president, born in the northern city of Tumbes, on the border with Ecuador, is also an agricultural exporter and cattle rancher in his region.
In his inauguration speech, Merino said his government will guarantee the upcoming elections, scheduled to take place April 11, 2021.
"Our first commitment is to ratify our democratic conviction and respect the ongoing electoral process, which must be carried out in the country according to the calendar established by the competent bodies," he said.
Merino acknowledged Peru has been plunged into political turmoil, with supporters of Vizcarra taking to the streets in a show of support for the ousted president.
"I reiterate that this is a very difficult time for the country, which we have to face with moral integrity and democratic courage. In this context, I express my respect for the institutions and support for the armed forces," said Merino.
Merino is Peru's third president since 2016, following the curtailed terms of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018) and Martin Vizcarra (2018-2020).
Analysts said one of Merino's main challenges from here until the end of his term on July 28, 2021, will be to ensure a peaceful transition of power to whoever wins in April.
Lawmakers voted to impeach Vizcarra for purportedly taking bribes in exchange for granting lucrative public works contracts when he was governor of the southern department of Moquegua between 2011 and 2014.
His ouster came amid an unprecedented health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis that has left more than 6 million Peruvians unemployed. Enditem