A Peruvian judge banned ousted president Martin Vizcarra from leaving the country days after his dismissal by Congress as the country's political crisis continues.
At least 27 people have been wounded in clashes between police and protestors as thousands of Peruvians took to the streets to demonstrate against the dismissal of President Martin Vizcarra.
The unrest over the last four nights, and other more peaceful protests in the capital Lima and other cities, are piling pressure on a fragmented Congress and the new government of President Manuel Merino.
A Peruvian judge on Friday banned Vizcarra from leaving the country days after his dismissal by Congress as the country's political crisis continues.
Judge Maria Alvarez said she was imposing an 18-month travel ban on Vizcarra at the request of the Public Prosecutor's Office, investigating allegations that the 57-year-old received more than $600,000 in kickbacks from developers while a regional governor.
"We have said that we will stay," Vizcarra assured journalists on Friday, once again rejecting the charges against him and questioning the legality of his removal.
"We have the truth and the support that backs us up," he said.
Congress voted on Monday to impeach the president, while Congress Speaker Manuel Merino assumed office as Peru's third president in four years.
In the capital Lima, police used tear gas to disperse a group trying to reach the Congress building late on Thursday while protesters threw sticks and stones at the officers.
A dozen protesters were arrested on Thursday, rights lawyer Mar Perez said on America Noticias television.
'Respect the demonstrators'
On Thursday night, police used tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters, some of whom threw rocks at police and destroyed store windows and cash machines. The demonstrations were among the largest in two decades in Peru.
Peru's National Human Rights Coordinator said 11 people were wounded on Thursday, including some journalists. A Lima hospital said at least two people had been injured by rubber bullets. Police put the number at 27, including injured officers.
The South America office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on authorities to guarantee the right of Peruvians to protest, saying it had received "disturbing information" about police behaviour.
Vizcarra said the protests must be allowed and called on the people to express themselves peacefully.
"We also appeal to the national police to respect the demonstrators," he said.
"The police have the obligation to observe at all times the international standards on the use of force in the management of demonstrations," said representative Jan Jarab.
#Peru: Protests broke out in Lima after Congress abruptly removed the President and placed an interim leader. The election is at least 6 months away.— Anonymous 👥 (@YourAnonCentral) November 11, 2020
In this scene, protestors chase off riot police with stones. (📹@TomateColectivo) pic.twitter.com/hxzW8Y3N85
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Thursday also tweeted its "concern at the excessive use of force."
Interim president Merino called for calm.
"We are not going to put in place a brutal change," he said, after installing his government, with a conservative majority.
Interior Minister Gastón Rodríguez denied reports that the police had used lethal weapons and said that they had only fired tear gas and rubber bullets when a protest had got out of hand.
"The reaction of the police occurs when there is an attack on public property or when there is a direct attack as happened yesterday," he told reporters.
Police said the protest had left 16 civilians injured, mostly by rubber bullets, and 11 policemen were also injured.
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Protests in Peru. How it started, how it's going. pic.twitter.com/AjC2CFEw0m— Rodrigo Barrenechea (@RodrigoBarrene4) November 13, 2020
In #Peru people came out to protest against the vacancy of now expresident Martin Vizcarra. The protests are being peaceful, the police are the violent ones. We are in an economic, political and two health crises. Our authorities do not protect us !! pic.twitter.com/qeYakM2H8c— angela | ceo of sott (@anistonlths) November 10, 2020
'People are rising up'
When he took office on Tuesday, Merino said he would respect the calendar for the next general elections, scheduled for April 11, 2021 and would leave power on July 28, 2021, the day when Vizcarra's mandate was to end.
Clashes also took place on Tuesday, after Merino was sworn-in.
Vizcarra had broad popular support since succeeding Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the former Wall Street banker who was forced to resign under threat of impeachment over corruption allegations in 2018.
Some lawmakers had questioned the wisdom of removing Vizcarra in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and a crippling recession, with the financial markets nervous about whether the new government will maintain existing economic policies.
"In all the cities of Peru people are rising up because they consider that this has been a coup," protester Luis Bardales, 34, told AFP in Lima.
"And that is why I would like to live in a future where my children can be in a democratic country where the laws are respected," he said.
"We do not agree with parliament. It was not necessary" to dismiss Vizcarra, said protester Irene Aguilar, marching with her daughter.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit Peru hard, with GDP plunging more than 30 percent in the second quarter.
The South American country has the world's highest per capita death rate from the virus, which has caused nearly 35,000 deaths and more than 920,000 infections.
Cops are abusing of their power in peaceful protests in Peru. Please, we all need of your help right now. #PeruVsChile #PoliciasAsesinos #PoliciasContraElPueblo #PeruTeQuieroPorEsoTeDefiendo #PrensaBasura #FIFA @ONU_fr @UNHumanright @GlobalRights pic.twitter.com/UR9InSrlaN— Tin∆ (@ms_insecurites) November 13, 2020