Peruvian electoral jury gives provisional OK for late elections

Handout picture distributed by the Peruvian Congress press office of the Session of the Plenary in which Peruvian lawmakers voted in favor of early general elections next April 2024 instead of 2026 as scheduled, on Dec 20, 2022, in Lima. (ERNESTO ARIAS / PERUVIAN CONGRESS / AFP)

LIMA – The head of Peru's electoral jury on Tuesday gave Congress the provisional green light to bring forward a general election to the end of 2023, amid deadly protests over the impeachment of former president Pedro Castillo.

The opposition-controlled Congress is set to debate a proposal to hold early elections later today, after initially rejecting the possibility last week, but most left-wing lawmakers oppose the proposal for new elections.

"The electoral system is in a position to take up this challenge, despite the difficulties, with the aim of supporting the collective task of building peace," the jury's president Jorge Salas said on Twitter.

Considering the "social urgency", the president of Peru's electoral jury Jorge Salas said primary elections could be sacrificed in order to hold a new presidential vote in December 2023

Considering the "social urgency", Salas said primary elections could be sacrificed in order to hold a new presidential vote in December 2023.

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President Dina Boluarte took office on Dec 7 shortly after her predecessor Castillo was ousted and arrested following his attempt to illegally dissolve Congress following an extended standoff between the two independent state powers.

Since Boluarte took office, violent protests have shaken the Andean nation leaving at least 21 dead in clashes with security forces, according to authorities, and six more in incidents involving road blockades.

Protesters are demanding immediate elections and the closure of Congress, while some also call for Castillo's release and Boluarte to resign.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mexico said it had granted asylum to the family of former Peruvian president Pedro Castillo and that it was negotiating their safe passage from Mexico's embassy in Lima.

READ MORE: Peru's Boluarte names cabinet following Castillo ouster

The former leader is being held in pre-trial detention for 18 months while he is investigated for rebellion, which he denies.

Human rights groups have accused Peru's police and armed forced of using deadly firearms and dropping smoke bombs from helicopters. The army alleges that protesters, mostly in the southern Andean region, used homemade weapons and explosives.