Peru to swear in new president again to calm anger, markets buoyed

Francisco Sagasti from the Centrist Morado Party addresses Congress members after he was elected Peru's interim president, in Lima

Peruvian lawmaker Francisco Sagasti is set to be sworn in as interim president on Tuesday after being voted for by Congress in a bid to help calm anger on the streets amid deadly protests and the departure of two presidents over the last week.

Sagasti, a legislator from the centrist Purple Party, will be sworn in at 4 p.m. (2100 GMT) to fulfill a government mandate until July next year, which would include holding a new presidential election scheduled for April 11.

The Andean nation has been shaken since the abrupt ouster in an impeachment trial of popular leader Martin Vizcarra last Monday. His successor, Manuel Merino, resigned on Sunday after two young people died in protests against his government.

Sagasti’s appointment appeared to calm tensions, though a deep mistrust of the country’s politicians still remains and on Monday night, hundreds of people marched in the capital Lima, with calls for a new constitution and “justice for the fallen”.

“I think that Sagasti is someone that gives democratic guarantees, that can get a transition towards a new government that will be adequate,” said one protester, Paloma Carpio.

Jose Murguia, also protesting, was less convinced.

“Quite frankly, it’s the same rubbish. The mask has changed but everything is all the same,” he said.

Sagasti, 76, an engineer and former World Bank official, said on Monday night that he was considering names for ministers in his government and did not rule out including members of the cabinets of centrist predecessors Vizcarra and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

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

Sagasti will be Peru’s fourth president in less than three years, after the departures of Vizcarra and Merino, and the resignation of Kuczynski in 2018 on allegations of corruption.

Peru’s sol currency PEN=PE reacted positively to the news, rising around 0.95% on Tuesday, on track for its biggest daily percentage rise in seven months, after it came under pressure over the last week. The country’s sovereign bonds also edged up.

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