Peru seems to see the light already within the worst political crisis in which the country has been plunged in two decades. Francisco Sagasti, from the Purple Party -which he himself founded and with a center-liberal tendency- will be the next president of the country and will assume the vacuum due to the resignation of the interim president Manuel Merino, forced to resign on Sunday after the brutal repression of popular protests which caused two deaths. The Legislature failed in its first attempt to find a new candidate, although finally this Monday it achieved sufficient support for the person who will have to take the reins of the country until the April 11 elections.
Francisco Sagasti, 76, was actually elected to preside over the board that runs Congress and will then serve as provisional president of Peru until the new elections. He obtained 97 votes in favor to only 26 against, well above the 60 he needed to be elected. On Sunday, the only list of the leftist deputy Rocío Silva failed in a similar attempt, with only 42 supporters. In turn, the new president of the Chamber will be Mirtha Vásquez after the resignation of Luis Valdez.
Opposed to removal
Sagasti is a figure of relative consensus, well regarded by both the left and the right, and with a profile that can help reassure a citizenry that is jaded with the political maneuvers evidenced by the parties that imposed the removal of Vizcarra and the inauguration of Merino. . He was one of the few deputies (only 19 of 130) who actively and passively opposed this dismissal due to its illegitimate, destabilizing nature and its distancing from the popular will, which in the end has corroborated the facts.
An engineer by profession, a university professor, and also a former technical adviser to the World Bank, he will apparently have more facilities than his predecessor in assembling a “broad-based” cabinet to ensure a peaceful transition of power in July. It will be missing after the House has removed the previous president for “moral inability” to remove him, a controversial figure on which the Constitutional Court is expected to rule and whose late ruling raised concern on Monday that it may generate new controversies.
Martín Vizcarra, who called Merino (his successor) a “little dictator” for consenting to the repression of the protests, argued that his departure “does not solve the problem” since the people demand “to recover democracy and institutionality.” The Prosecutor’s Office, however, is already investigating the resigned interim president, his chief of staff and the Minister of the Interior for the death of the two protesters.