Interim leader Manuel Merino resigns after deadly protests and exodus of his cabinet members.

Peru's interim president Manuel Merino steps down immediately after Congress demands his resignation in an emergency meeting.
Peru's interim president Manuel Merino steps down immediately after Congress demands his resignation in an emergency meeting. (Reuters)

Peru's interim president Manuel Merino has resigned after a violent crackdown on protests that left at least three people dead followed by an exodus of his cabinet members.

"I want to let the whole country know that I'm resigning," Merino said in a televised address on Sunday, sparking wild street celebrations in the capital Lima after protests against his rule.

Merino stepped down immediately after Peru's head of Congress, Luis Valdez, said that all of the legislature's political parties had agreed to ask for the "immediate" resignation of Merino in an emergency Congress session. 

Valdez said the legislature would begin an impeachment process if Merino did not resign. 

The meeting of the leaders of the nine parties in Congress was called by Valdez, who said the situation in Peru had become "untenable" after the police crackdown.

Police crackdown criticised

Thousands took to the streets in days of protests against Merino following the ouster of his popular predecessor Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached on corruption allegations on Monday.

Three protesters were killed during a massive and peaceful march in Lima, which was violently repressed by police firing shotgun pellets and tear gas.

"I just found out about the third death" in the protests, said the Archbishop of Lima, Carlos Castillo, deploring the police crackdown in a statement to state television.

Police reported two deaths, while the National Human Rights Coordinator indicated it was investigating whether there were four.

The Ombudsman's Office said the first fatality, a 25-year-old man, was killed by pellet shots to the head and face. At least 63 protesters were injured, the Health Ministry said.

The police tactics have been criticised by the UN and rights organisations such as Amnesty International since the protests began on Tuesday.

Latin America analyst Javier Farje told TRT World it is the first time that people in Peru have come out in support of an ousted president. 

READ MORE: Thousands of protesters in Peru demand President Manuel Merino's removal

Ministers resign in protest

Seven of the 18 ministers in Merino's cabinet announced their resignation on Saturday night after the police crackdown, according to local media.

The political crisis appeared to be heading towards the resignation of Merino, whose whereabouts were unknown early on Sunday.

"I'm calling him and I can't get through, I have no idea if he has resigned. I'm not a fortune teller," Prime Minister Antero Flores Araoz, the government's number two, told RPP radio.

Lima's international airport said it was closed due to the night curfew.

Source: AFP