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Castillo in Peru threatens to dissolve Congress as the political crisis deepens

Castillo in Peru threatens to dissolve Congress as the political crisis deepens

LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian President Pedro Castillo said on Wednesday he would dissolve Congress by decree hours before his trial is due, plunging the Andean country into a full-blown constitutional crisis.

The move, which appeared to break the normal legal channels for resolving issues between government authorities, prompted resignations by key ministers from Castillo’s government and allegations of a “coup” by members of Congress and others.

In a speech, Castillo declared a “government of exception” and called for new legislative elections. He said he would respect the current economic model of the country, the world’s second largest copper producer, while Congress was temporarily dissolved.

It was not clear if Castillo would actually be able to dissolve Congress. Lawmakers appeared determined to move forward with the impeachment debate and vote, the third attempt to remove the former left-wing teacher since he took office last year.

“In response to the outcry of citizens across the country, we have made the decision to form an emergency government aimed at restoring the rule of law and democracy,” Castillo said in a speech.

Castillo’s allies appear to have abandoned him as stocks, bonds and Sol’s currency plummet. Economy Minister and Foreign Minister Cesar Landa resigned, saying the move “violated” Peru’s constitution.

“I strongly condemn this self-coup,” Landa said, adding that Castillo made the decision without his knowledge or support.

Peruvian Attorney General Daniel Soria’s office said it would file a criminal complaint against Castillo, accusing the president of “flagrant violation of the constitution”.

Others, including former Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and other former ministers, called Castillo’s move a “coup”.

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“The coup cannot be supported by any democrat. My total rejection of an unconstitutional shutdown of Congress,” Pedro Frank, Castillo’s former economy minister, said on Twitter. “He who intends to establish himself as a dictator cannot continue as president.”

The President of Peru’s Constitutional Court has said that Congress should summon Vice President Dina Boloart to take power.

Peru, which has gone through years of political turmoil, has seen major confrontations between the president and Congress before.

President Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress and was subsequently impeached in 2020. Three decades ago, former President Alberto Fujimori, currently imprisoned for human rights abuses and corruption, announced the dissolution of Congress.

Reporting by Marco Aquino. Writing by Valentine Hillier; Editing by Anthony Esposito, Bill Berkrot, and Rosalba O’Brien

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