US says it ‘looks forward’ to working with new Peru president

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on political actors in Peru to ease tensions and pursue ‘reconciliation’.

Washington “looks forward to working closely” on shared goals with newly appointed Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, the administration of US President Joe Biden has said after top United States diplomat Antony Blinken spoke by phone with the embattled South American leader.

The US Department of State confirmed the talks between Blinken and Boluarte on Sunday as unrest continues across Peru after the ouster of President Pedro Castillo from office earlier this month. The call had taken place two days earlier.

“Secretary Blinken encouraged Peru’s institutions and civil authorities to redouble their efforts to make needed reforms and safeguard democratic stability,” the State Department said in a statement.

Boluarte was sworn in by Peru’s Congress to replace Castillo on December 7 after lawmakers ousted the former president, who had announced plans to “temporarily” dissolve Congress and rule by decree in what he said was an effort to “re-establish the rule of law and democracy”.

Boluarte previously served as vice president to Castillo, who has been arrested on charges of rebellion and conspiracy after his removal. On Thursday, a Peruvian court extended the left-wing leader’s pre-trial detention to 18 months.

Castillo had faced multiple crises during his short tenure as president. Sworn in July 2021, the teacher and union leader from rural Peru faced corruption allegations, a grim approval rating, and a stillborn legislative agenda thwarted by an opposition-dominated Congress.

Now Boluarte is facing a crisis of her own as demonstrators demand her resignation.

Blinken’s call with Boluarte came amid political chaos and ongoing anti-government protests calling for early elections and Castillo’s release.

“The United States looks forward to working closely with President Boluarte on shared goals and values related to democracy, human rights, security, anti-corruption, and economic prosperity,” the State Department said.

“Secretary Blinken stressed the need for all Peruvian actors to engage in constructive dialogue to ease political divisions and focus on reconciliation.”

In a national address on Saturday, Boluarte called on Congress to authorise early elections “in line” with the demands of the people of Peru.

Boluarte’s administration had declared a nationwide state of emergency on Wednesday, suspending freedom of movement and assembly in a bid to quell the unrest, which has left several people dead.

Earlier this week, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador slammed the measure, calling for respect for human rights and civil liberties in Peru.

“Force must not be used, the people must not be repressed and freedoms must be guaranteed,” Lopez Obrador said during a news conference.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies