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Peru: Police clash with protesters in capital Lima

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Riot police used tear gas to disperse protesters in Peru’s capital Lima, as thousands of people took part in anti-government marches across the country.

Demonstrators want embattled President Pedro Castillo to resign over allegations of corruption.

The left-wing leader, who unexpectedly won power last year, is the subject of six criminal investigations – but denies any wrongdoing.

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Peru faces a number of economic issues, including spiralling living costs.

The country was disproportionately badly hit by Covid-19, and poverty levels are forecast to remain above pre-pandemic levels for the next two years, according to the World Bank.

Mr Castillo won the presidency promising to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, but a Congress dominated by opposition lawmakers has blocked many of his plans.

One of Saturday’s protesters told the Reuters news agency she was taking part for the sake of her children and grandchildren, because “this government is becoming hell”.

Another told the AFP news agency that the country was “on the edge of the precipice; economically everything has stagnated”.

No injuries were reported immediately after police fired tear-gas canisters in Lima in an effort to stop demonstrators from reaching government buildings.

Protests were also reported in a handful of other Peruvian cities, while groups of Mr Castillo’s supporters organised a march of their own in a Lima square.

Following his 2021 victory in a highly polarised vote, Mr Castillo has survived two attempts to oust him from his job through impeachment.

The 53-year-old was also the subject of a constitutional complaint last month from the attorney-general, who accused Mr Castillo and his family members of being behind a criminal organisation.

The former schoolteacher and strike leader insisted he and has relatives had committed no offences, complaining that his rivals were attempting to unseat him.

On Saturday, Mr Castillo tweeted a defiant message aimed at “the usual enemies” who he blamed for “false accusations” – vowing to continue to fight to free people from inequality.

Peru has seen a number of presidents ousted from office in recent years. In 2020, it had three heads of state in the space of five days.

Image source, EPA

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