Q24N – Peru’s president, Pedro Castillo, was ousted by Congress and arrested on a charge of rebellion Wednesday after he sought to dissolve the legislative body and take unilateral control of the government, triggering a grave constitutional crisis.
Within hours, Peru had a female president for the first time, Dina Boluarte – previously the vice-president – was sworn in after a dramatic day in Lima on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Castillo had said he was replacing Congress with an “exceptional emergency government”. But legislators ignored this, and in an emergency meeting impeached him. He was then detained and accused of rebellion.
After lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to remove Castillo from office for reasons of “permanent moral incapacity,” Castillo was driven from the presidential palace and through Lima’s historic downtown.
Reports in local media say he entered a police station and hours later, federal prosecutors announced that Castillo had been arrested on the rebellion charge for allegedly violating constitutional order.
Other reports say he was heading to the Mexican embassy in the capital when he was arrested.
Witnesses described small-scale clashes between police and some protesters who had gathered near the station.
Speaking after taking the oath of office, Boluarte, a 60-year-old lawyer, called for a political truce to overcome the crisis which has gripped the country. “What I ask for is a space, a time to rescue the country,” she said.
She also said she would govern until July 2026, which is when Castillo’s presidency would have ended.
Failed coup d’etat
Wednesday morning in Peru began with President Pedro Castillo giving an address on national television in which he declared a state of emergency.
He announced that he would dissolve the opposition-controlled Congress, a move which was met with shock both in Peru and abroad. Several ministers resigned immediately in protest.
The head of the Constitutional Court accused him of launching a coup d’etat, while the United States “strongly urged” Castillo to reverse his decision.
In his televised address he said: “In response to citizens’ demands throughout the length and breadth of the country, we have decided to establish an exceptional government aimed at re-establishing the rule of law and democracy.”
He said that “a new Congress with constituent powers to draw up a new constitution” would be convened “within no more than nine months”.
The result was overwhelming: 101 legislators voted in favor of impeaching him, with only six against and 10 abstentions.
Peru has been going through a rocky political period, with multiple presidents ousted from office in recent years. In 2020, it had three presidents within the space of five days.
Castillo, who is a left-wing former school teacher, was elected in June 2021 in a polarizing election in which he defeated his right-wing rival, Keiko Fujimori.
Castillo had recently been fighting allegations of corruption. He has denied allegations, saying they’re based on “hearsay statements by people who, seeking to lighten their own punishments for supposed crimes by abusing my confidence, are trying to involve me without evidence.”