Peru President, Merino resigns after five days in power

In this photo released by Peru's Presidential Palace, Peru's interim president Manuel Merino announces his resignation via a televised address from the Presidential Palace in Lima, Peru, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. Merino stepped down following massive protests unleashed when Congress ousted President Martin Vizcarra. (Luis Iparraguirre/Peru's Presidential Palace via AP)

Peru’s interim President Manuel Merino on Sunday announced his resignation, a move that has sparked celebrations in the capital Lima following street protests against him and the ousting of his popular predecessor.

“I want to let the whole country know that I’m resigning,” Merino said in a televised address, a day after a police crackdown on protesters left at least two people dead.

His resignation came shortly after a crisis session of Congress called on him to quit power before 6:00 pm (2300 GMT) or face censure.

Congress was expected to appoint a new president — the South American country’s third in a week — in a new session on Sunday evening.

Congress’ ultimatum came after the health ministry said two protesters were killed on Saturday during a massive and peaceful march in Lima, which was repressed by police firing shotgun pellets and tear gas.

According to local media outlet reports, thousands have taken to the streets in days of protests against Merino following the ouster of his predecessor Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached on corruption allegations on Monday.

Elections are scheduled for April 2021 and Merino was scheduled to leave power in July, when Vizcarra’s mandate was to end.

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