Peru police clash with protesters demanding president step down

(AFP): Protesters and police clashed over the weekend during renewed demonstrations against Peru’s interim President Dina Boluarte in the capital Lima, where demonstrators are demanding she step down and hold elections.

Boluarte came to power in December after former leftist president Pedro Castillo was ousted and arrested, triggering accusations of power grabbing and setting off months of nationwide demonstrations.

The ensuing crackdown by security forces left almost 50 people dead, according to an estimate by Human Rights Watch, which accused the authorities of extrajudicial and arbitrary killings.

The latest unrest kicked off on Wednesday, when more than 4,000 demonstrators took to Lima’s streets, in part to demand accountability for the protesters’ deaths.

On Saturday, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd that was occupying the central San Martin square.

Three civilians were detained in scuffles with security forces, according to the ombudsman’s office and human rights organizations.

No injuries were reported.

Saturday’s gathering drew hundreds of protesters from unions and leftist groups, but did not include the centrist and center-right factions.

Further demonstrations are planned for July 28, a national holiday celebrating Peru’s 1821 independence from Spain.

Boluarte, 61, is being investigated by the public prosecutor’s office for alleged “genocide, qualified homicide and serious injuries,” although her political position grants her immunity from prosecution.

Even if Boluarte faces a concrete charge, as president, she could not face a court until her mandate ends in 2026.