Peru swears in its second new president in a week

<p>Peruvian interim president Francisco Sagasti is sworn into office in Lima on 17 November</p>

Peru has sworn in Francisco Sagasti as its new president, making him the third person to hold the position in little more than a week.

His appointment came amid one of the country’s worst constitutional crises in recent decades, which started after the popular president Martin Vizcarra was ousted from office in a Congress vote last week.

The move plunged the country into turmoil and led to violent protests in which two young men died. As a result of these demonstrations and the resignation of most of his cabinet, Manuel Merino, Mr Vizcarra’s replacement, announced on Sunday that he was leaving the role five days after being sworn in.

Mr Sagasti, 76, a former engineer and World Bank official, used his first address to the Andean nation to pay homage to the men who had died.

“We can’t bring them back to life. But we can stop this from happening again,” he said.

The 76-year-old, who belongs to the centrist Purple Party, spent his first hours after being voted in as president on Monday in hospitals where injured protesters were recuperating.

“We will do everything possible to return hope,” he said, while promising to restore trust in the government.

The new president, who is expected to remain in the position until elections scheduled for next April, is yet to choose his cabinet but has said that he will consider ministers from Mr Vizcarra’s government for the jobs.  

“If they are people with experience, integrity and the desire to work, I think we would do wrong to leave them aside,” Mr Sagasti told local television station Canal N.

Michael Shifter, head of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank, thinks Mr Sagasti was a sensible choice at a difficult time for the country.

“He always had ideas about trying to build bridges in Peru. That’s what he really stood for,” Mr Shifter said.

In response to his appointment, Peru’s currency rose by roughly 1.75 per cent, its largest daily increase in seven months.

The country has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with its economy predicted to shrink more this year than at any time in the last 100 years.

Additional reporting by agencies

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