Peruvian President Dina Boluarte has made a renewed appeal for congress to hold early elections as a way to end weeks of deadly protests, warning that otherwise she will seek constitutional reform to make a vote happen.
"Vote for Peru, for the country, by moving the elections up to 2023," the president said in an address to the nation on Sunday.
"Tomorrow you have a chance to win the country's trust."
She added that if lawmakers — scheduled to convene on Monday — refuse, she will propose a constitutional reform so that a first round of elections will be held in October and a runoff in December.
The South American country has been embroiled in a political crisis with near-daily street protests since December 7, when then-president Pedro Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.
In seven weeks of demonstrations, 48 people — including one police officer — have been killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, according to the Ombudsman's Office of Peru.
The unrest is coming mainly from poor, rural Indigenous people from southern Peru who had identified Castillo — Indigenous and from that same region — as one of their own who would fight to end poverty, racism and inequality from which they suffer.
Last month, lawmakers moved up elections due in 2026 to April 2024, but as protests show no sign of abating, Boluarte now wants them held this year — a call that Congress rejected on Saturday.
But in the face of relentless protests, Boluarte on Friday urged Congress to move the vote up further but it was rejected at a plenary session with 45 votes in favour, 65 against and two abstentions.
READ MORE: Protesters clash with police after Peru Congress rejects snap election
Not 'clinging to power'
Demonstrators are calling for immediate elections, as well as Boluarte's removal, the dissolution of Congress and a new constitution.
"Nobody has any interest in clinging to power," Boluarte insisted on Friday.
"If I am here it is because I fulfilled my constitutional responsibility."
As Castillo's vice president, Boluarte was constitutionally mandated to replace him after he was impeached by Congress and arrested.
Apart from those who have died in protests, an additional 10 civilians, including two babies, died when they were unable to get medical treatment or medicine due to roadblocks, the ombudsman's office said.
In southern regions, roadblocks have resulted in widespread shortages.
Some of the worst violence and highest death tolls have come when protesters tried to storm airports in the south.
Southern regions with large Indigenous populations have been the epicentre of the protest movement that has affected Peru's vital tourism industry.
As well as blocking dozens of roads and forcing the temporary closure of several airports, protesters have placed rocks on the train tracks that act as the only transport access to Machu Picchu, the former Inca citadel and jewel of Peruvian tourism.
Hundreds of tourists were stranded at the archeological ruins, with many eventually evacuated by helicopter.
READ MORE: Peru lawmakers submit motion looking to impeach President Boluarte