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Peru President Manuel-Merino

Peru’s interim president resigns after five days in office

Peru’s interim president, Manuel Merino, on Sunday, resigned from office just five days after taking office.

His resignation came following massive protests that trailed his inauguration which held less than one week ago.

Merino was inaugurated on Tuesday, after Martin Vizcarra, his predecessor, was ousted by congress over accusations of collecting bribes when he was regional governor.

Vizcarra’s removal was immediately followed by nationwide protests as supporters of the ousted president accused the congress of legislative coup.

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Merino, 59, stepped down shortly after a crisis session of Congress called on him to quit power before 6:00 pm (2300 GMT) or face censure.

The ultimatum from congress came after the health ministry said two protesters were killed on Saturday during a massive and peaceful march in Lima, which was repressed by police firing shotgun pellets and tear gas. Several others also sustained injuries following the clash with security agencies at the protest.

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Although Merino had earlier vowed to remain in power, he changed his stance on Sunday, and announced his resignation in a televised address.

“I want to make it known to the whole country that I irrevocably present my resignation for the office of the presidency and I call for peace and unity for all Peruvians,” CNN quoted him as saying.

“My commitment is with Peru and I will do everything in my power to guarantee a constitutional succession and for Congress to determine in order for Peru to move forward.”

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He however added that to avoid a “power vacuum” the 18 ministers he swore in on Thursday would temporarily remain in their posts, though almost all had resigned in the wake of Saturday’s crackdown on protests.

His resignation was greeted by noisy celebrations in Lima, with demonstrators taking to the streets sounding horns and banging pots.

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