Peru's Congress has rejected a request by embattled President Dina Boluarte to bring forward elections to December 2023, as protests that have killed dozens rage on against her leadership.
The South American country has been embroiled in a political crisis with near-daily protests since December 7 when former president Pedro Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.
Demanding that Boluarte resign and call fresh elections, Castillo supporters have erected roadblocks on highways, causing shortages of food, fuel and other basic supplies. The government said it will soon deploy police and soldiers to clear the roadblocks.
Lawmakers already agreed last month to bring forward elections from 2026 to April 2024.
In the face of relentless protests, Boluarte on Friday urged Congress to call the vote for December, describing the political crisis as a "quagmire."
But in a plenary session held during Saturday's early hours, Congress rejected the proposal, with 45 votes in favor, 65 against and two abstentions.
Leftist parties had demanded that the advancement of elections be accompanied by a constitutional convention -- something protesters have repeatedly called for.
"With this vote, the constitutional reform proposal for the advancement of elections is rejected," Congress president Jose Williams said, after more than seven hours of debate.
Following the vote, Williams received a request for "reconsideration", which could be debated on Monday in a new session, though it would be difficult to reverse the decision.
Protesters have demanded immediate elections, as well as Boluarte's removal, the dissolution of Congress and a new constitution.
"Nobody has any interest in clinging to power," insisted Boluarte.
"I have no interest in remaining in the presidency. If I am here it is because I fulfilled my constitutional responsibility."
READ MORE: Peru President proposes moving elections forward amid protests
Weeks of protests
As Castillo's vice president, Boluarte was constitutionally mandated to replace him after he was impeached by Congress and arrested.
The US State Department said Friday it remained concerned about the violent demonstrations as it called "for calm dialogue and for all parties to exercise restraint and nonviolence," spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
In seven weeks of protests since Castillo's arrest, 47 people have been killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, according to the Ombudsman's Office of Peru.
The autonomous human rights office said another 10 civilians -- including two babies -- were collateral fatalities when they were unable to get medical treatment or medicine due to roadblocks.
In southern regions, weeks of roadblocks have resulted in shortages of food and fuel.
READ MORE: Peru grapples with 'nationwide chaos' as protests spread