Peru's President calls for peace as more than 20 die in protests

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By Isabella Jewell  & PA
Supporters of ousted Peruvian President Pedro Castillo
Supporters of ousted Peruvian President Pedro Castillo   -   Copyright  Martin Mejia/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

At least 20 people have been killed and dozens injured and arrested in protests since the impeachment of  Pedro Castillo on 7 December.

Peru's President, who replaced Castillo earlier this month, wrote on Twitter: "We mourn the crying of the mothers in Ayacucho and we suffer the pain of families throughout the country. Today, in a sad day of violence, we again mourn the death of Peruvians. My deep condolences to the bereaved. I reiterate my call for peace. #PerúUnido #PerúEnPaz."

Protests in support of Castillo, who was removed as President after attempting to dissolve Congress, have rocked the country for the last ten days, with many demonstrators calling the interim government led by former Vice President Dina Boluarte "corrupt" and "illegitimate". 

We mourn the crying of the mothers in Ayacucho and we suffer the pain of families throughout the country. Today, in a sad day of violence, we again mourn the death of Peruvians. My deep condolences to the bereaved. I reiterate my call for peace. #PerúUnido #PerúEnPaz

Castillo is being investigated on charges of rebellion and conspiracy, and will remain in detention for 18 months until his trial.

Fierce protests have shown no signs of stopping, especially in impoverished rural areas, where supporters demand Castillo be released from prison. 

Castillo was Peru's first president with Indigenous heritage, so his election was symbolic for long overlooked farmers who have been underrepresented in Peruvian politics for decades. 

Peru has been through years of political turmoil, with the latest crisis and appointment of Boluarte marking the sixth President in as many years. 

On Wednesday the government declared a state of emergency for 30 days, giving increased powers to the police and military to quell the protests. 

On Friday Boluarte said in a speech: "This transition government that I preside over understands and is still listening to the demands of millions of Peruvians that have legitimately raised their voices."

Some Peruvian MPs called for the presidential elections to be brought forward to 2023 to calm the protests, however the chamber rejected this proposal.