Manuel Merino’s exit follows fury sparked by shootings at pro-democracy rally
The interim president of Peru, Manuel Merino, has stepped down amid nationwide fury over the killing of two protesters in a brutally heavy-handed police clampdown on huge pro-democracy demonstrations on Saturday.
In a televised address to the nation, Merino announced his resignation and insisted he acted within the law when he was sworn into office as chief of state on Tuesday, following congress’s removal of the elected president in an impeachment vote.
News of the resignation was followed immediately by the sound of honking car horns, pot banging and cheers in neighbourhoods across the Peruvian capital.
The death of two men in their 20s from gunshot wounds on Saturday boosted the public clamour for Merino’s resignation.
The victims – identified as Jack Brian Pintado Sánchez, 22, and Jordan Inti Sotelo Camargo, 24 – were the first deaths in nearly a week of unrest over the controversial removal of Martín Vizcarra as president and his replacement by a de facto government, regarded by many Peruvians as a coup.
“They say he was injured with a bullet in the heart, he died like that and was brought in as corpse”, – Sotelo Camargo’s father told local journalists at the entrance of the Lima hospital where his son’s body had been taken, calling on Merino to take responsibility.
Peru’s human rights coordinator reported that more than 40 people were missing following Saturday’s march amid multiple reports of heavy-handed police repression against largely peaceful demonstrators. The health ministry reported that more than 90 people were being treated for injuries.