10 December 2022

Peru’s new president asks cabinet to take anti-corruption pledge

10 December 2022

Peru’s newest president, Dina Boluarte, has asked her new top team to take an anti-corruption pledge as she swore in her cabinet just three days after becoming the country’s first female head of state.

The 16 ministers chosen by Ms Boluarte, who was elevated from vice president to replace the ousted Pedro Castillo as the country’s leader on Wednesday, will be key to further inflaming or calming a South American country experiencing a seemingly endemic political crisis.

Ms Boluarte presented her government amid demonstrations across Peru calling for her resignation and the scheduling of general elections to replace her and congress.

On Saturday, she asked each of the eight men and eight women to swear or promise to perform their duties “loyally and faithfully without committing acts of corruption”.

Fluent in Spanish and Quechua, Ms Boluarte was elected as vice president on the presidential ticket that brought the centre-left Mr Castillo to power last year.

She was minister of development and social inclusion during the 17-month administration of Mr Castillo, a rural schoolteacher with no previous political experience.

Ms Boluarte, 60, replaced Mr Castillo after he stunned the country by ordering the dissolution of congress, which in turn dismissed him for “permanent moral incapacity”.

He was arrested on charges of rebellion. His failed move against the opposition-led congress came hours before legislators were set to start a third impeachment attempt against him.

Mr Castillo cycled through more than 70 cabinet members during his administration. Some of them have been accused of wrongdoing.

Ms Boluarte has said she should be allowed to hold the office for the remaining three and a half years of his term. But protesters are demanding new elections. Some of those demonstrating in favour of Castillo have called her a “traitor”.

On Saturday, several main roads were still blocked by protesters calling for the closure of congress, the resignation of Ms Boluarte and new elections.

Peru has had six presidents in the last six years, including three in a single week in 2020 when congress flexed its impeachment powers.

The power struggle in the country has continued as the Andes and its thousands of small farms struggle to survive the worst drought in a half-century.

Without rain, farmers cannot plant potatoes, and the dying grass can no longer sustain herds of sheep, alpacas, vicunas and llamas.

The government also confirmed that in the past week, Peru has seen a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections. The country has recorded about 4.3 million infections and 217,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Ms Boluarte also lacks support in congress. Like Mr Castillo, she was kicked out in January of the far-left party with which the pair was elected as president and vice president.

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