Peru: Tensions escalate as police disperse demonstrators protesting removal of president

Tensions were high as police attempted to disperse demonstrators who rallied in Lima on Wednesday, to reject the removal of Martin Vizcarra from office over his response to the coronavirus and corruption allegations, replacing him with President of the Congress Manuel Merino in what critics have called a parliamentary coup. Police were seen forcibly pushing back and dispersing protesters. Some rallygoers were seen carrying signs reading '(Merino) is not my president' and 'People wake up!'. ''There have been incidents of violence that we have been monitoring carefully since yesterday. Requesting and demanding respect for the right to protest is enshrined in the constitution,» said Percy Castillo, the Human Rights deputy for the Ombudsman's Office. The Peruvian congress voted overwhelmingly to remove Vizcarra over allegations that he has accepted bribes, which he denies. Peruvian media has pointed out that 68 of Peru's 130 members of Congress are under investigation on charges including abuse of power, corruption and homicide. Manuel Merino is Peru's third president since 2016, after Congress dismissed Vizcarra's predecessor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Merino, among others, is facing charges of having illegally tried to gain support of the military in Congress to secure Vizcarra's removal. The vote, which came weeks after a previous impeachment attempt, was a surprise to many as Peru has a presidential election scheduled in April of 2021.

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