Peru’s interim president resigned Sunday after only five days on the job as the nation plunged into its worst constitutional crisis in two decades, per the AP. The resignation followed massive protests unleashed when Congress ousted the nation’s popular leader. In a short televised address, Manuel Merino said Congress acted within the law when he was sworn into office as chief of state Tuesday, despite protesters’ allegations that legislators had staged a parliamentary coup. But Merino nevertheless stepped down, saying, “I, like everyone, want what’s best for our country." His move came after unrest in which two young protesters were killed and half his Cabinet quit. Peruvians cheered the decision, waving their nation’s red and white flag on the streets of Lima and chanting “We did it!” But there is still no clear playbook for what comes next.
Congress called an emergency session Sunday night to select a new president, but lawmakers had failed to make a decision as of Monday morning. Peru has much at stake: The country is in the throes of one of the world’s most lethal coronavirus outbreaks and political analysts say the constitutional crisis has cast the country’s democracy into jeopardy. Congress kicked former President Martin Vizcarra out using a clause dating back to the 19th century that allows the powerful legislature to remove a president for “permanent moral incapacity.” Legislators accused Vizcarra of taking more than $630,000 in bribes in exchange for two construction contracts while governor of a small province years ago. Prosecutors are investigating the allegations but Vizcarra has not been charged. He has vehemently denied the accusations.
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