Peru's President Pedro Castillo has been deposed and arrested after an escalation of the power struggle with parliament. Congress impeached Castillo on Wednesday after he announced the dissolution of Parliament. Politicians from both the government camp and the opposition had interpreted Castillo's announcement as a coup d'état. The previous vice president, Dina Boluarte, was sworn in as the new president, as required by the constitution. The 60-year-old lawyer is the first woman head of state in the history of the South American country.
Castillo was arrested in the capital, Lima, state news agency Andina reported. He is being questioned in the prefecture by Attorney General Patricia Benavides and the Chief Prosecutor for Corruption Cases.
101 MPs voted in favor of removing the head of state, 6 against and 10 abstained. In this case, the constitution of the South American country provides that the vice president takes over the official business.
Castillo was arrested in the center of the capital Lima, reported Andina. In the prefecture, he will be questioned by the Attorney General Patricia Benavides and the Chief Prosecutor for Corruption Cases.
Castillo had tried to forestall the vote on the no-confidence motion, and shortly beforehand announced the dissolution of Congress and a new election to Parliament. The parliamentarians were then to draft a new constitution within nine months. "Until the new Congress begins its work, we will govern by decree," announced Castillo.
Curfew was planned
In his speech, the President also announced a nationwide curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and announced a reform of the judiciary. "Congress has destroyed the rule of law, democracy and the balance between state powers," Castillo said. "We call on all civil society institutions and all social groups to support the decision."
However, Castillo had apparently miscalculated: After he announced the dissolution of the congress, numerous cabinet members left his flag, above all Vice President Boluarte. "I reject Pedro Castillo's decision to bring about the collapse of the constitutional order by dissolving Congress. This is a coup that deepens the political and institutional crisis that Peruvian society must overcome in strict compliance with the law," she wrote on twitter.
Numerous ministers resigned after Castillo's speech. "Because the rule of law has been violated and in accordance with my democratic principles, I hereby submit my irrevocable resignation as Minister of Economy and Finance," wrote Finance Minister Kurt Burneo on Twitter. Foreign Minister César Landa and Justice Minister Felix Chero also made their positions available. Attorney General Benavides said: "We strongly reject the breach of the constitutional order."
The opposition also spoke of a coup d'etat. "He's not allowed to do what he just did. It's illegal," MP Martha Moyano from the right-wing Fuerza Popular party told RPP radio. Her party colleague Héctor Ventura said: "Today, the armed forces must respect the democratic order." MP and former admiral José Cueto wrote on Twitter: "What Pedro Castillo has done is a coup d'etat. The armed forces will support the constitution and not the dictator."
Castillo's government has been under pressure since the former village school teacher took office in July last year. Because of various allegations or differences of opinion, important ministers repeatedly vacated their posts. Just two weeks ago, Castillo appointed a new head of cabinet - the fifth in just under a year and a half. Since taking office, Castillo has survived two impeachment trials.
The government of the left-wing politician was also in a permanent power struggle with parliament. Most recently, Congress refused the head of state permission to travel to the Pacific Alliance summit in Mexico, thereby canceling the meeting. Numerous parliamentarians are also being investigated for various allegations. Two of Castillo's predecessors were removed from office in similar proceedings.