The Peruvian Congress is trying to quell the outrage in the streets with the election of a new president, the third to take office in less than two weeks. Parliamentarian Francisco Sagasti will be the next head of state after the abrupt resignation of Manuel Merino this Sunday.
Sagasti, from the Purple Party, obtained 97 votes in favor and 26 against, without any abstention. Now he must assume the presidential succession process established in the Constitution, which establishes that the holder of that power of the State assumes the presidency when there is a power vacuum.
The election takes place in the middle of a serious political and social crisis after the removal of Martín Vizcarra. The also industrial engineer must complete the current government period, which ends on July 28, 2021.
Sagasti was a harsh critic of the actions of the parliamentary benches, since his voted against the removal of Martín Vizcarra, which led Merino to the head of state.
The “Don Quixote” in command of Peru
The rapid consensus within the hemicycle exposes the strong tensions produced by the latest events in the country, where so far two people have lost their lives and several have been injured. Sagasti’s selection also meets some logic. Faced with the social upheaval, the congressmen have chosen a man known for his slow, calm and rational character. With his slim physiognomy, complexion and white beard, he has earned the nickname “Don Quixote” among his fellow legislators.
Francisco Sagasti, born in Lima in 1944, studied industrial engineering at the National University of Engineering, has a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Pennsylvania State University, and a doctorate in operational research and social systems sciences from the Wharton School of Business, in the University of Pennsylvania.
He has been a professor at the Universidad del Pacífico and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), principal investigator emeritus of the International National Forum and advisor to international organizations, government agencies and private entities on strategic issues.
Merino and his former ministers can receive up to 35 years in prison in Peru
Former Peruvian President Manuel Merino, his Prime Minister, Ántero Flores-Aráoz, and the Minister of the Interior Gastón Rodríguez, can be sentenced to up to 35 years in prison after being criminally denounced for crimes that involve “serious violations of human rights”.
“We have reported three crimes, but in reality we have to focus on the most serious, which is qualified homicide, Peruvian criminal law determines that it is punished with a minimum penalty of 15 years and could reach a penalty of 30 or 35 years, that will be left in the hands of the Judiciary, “Carlos Rivera, coordinator and lawyer of the Legal Department at the Legal Defense Institute, told Efe on Monday.
The lawyer confirmed that the main government authorities, who resigned this Sunday after a week of social protests that left two dead and dozens injured in Lima, have been denounced for the crimes of qualified homicide, serious injuries and abuse of authority.
The complaint also includes the director general of the National Police, Orlando Velasco, the chief of the Lima police region, Jorge Cayas, and the chiefs of operations and riot control agents who violently attacked the citizens who, the vast majority, were demonstrating peacefully .