(Bloomberg) -- Peru’s political crisis is worsening with the prime minister calling for people to defend the government in the street and lawmakers exchanging shoves in congress as graft probes close in on embattled President Pedro Castillo.
Late Wednesday, after his sister-in-law turned herself into authorities for alleged influence peddling, Castillo met at the presidential palace with allied social leaders who called for the closing of congress and for supporters to come to the capital Lima to protest recent developments.
Castillo has denounced a plot by conservative lawmakers, the nation’s prosecutor and some of the media to bring him down.
“If they’re going to continue with their attitude of vacancy, suspension, political trials, if they’re going to keep willing to carry out a coup against President Castillo, the people have no other choice,” Prime Minister Anibal Torres said at the meeting. “The people have woken, this is a people that know how to defend their rights. If necessary, with their own lives.”
Castillo, whose approval rating rose to 24% in August from 19% in June, has had to fend off daily crises due to graft probes and lawmaker attempts to pass impeachment motions against him. The arrest of his sister-in-law Yenifer Paredes, who was brought up like his older daughter, has inflamed the situation for the 52-year-old leader.
Lady Camones, the new head of congress, on Thursday rejected what she called “incitements to violence” by Castillo and Torres. She called for respect of the independence of the Prosecutor General’s office to carry out investigations.
Also Thursday, new Finance Minister Kurt Burneo met with major business leaders seeking to boost investment in the country and said he’s trying to play his part to kick start growth and lower the political tension. While wild politics in Peru is nothing new, the crisis is proving an obstacle for the economy to fully recover from the pandemic.
Back in congress, several lawmakers exchanged insults and pushes, prompting the session to be suspended. Outside the presidential palace, unions began gathering to defend the president.
“They falsely accuse me of treason but they don’t realize that they’re actually the ones betraying the fatherland,” Castillo wrote in a series of tweets on Thursday. “They do a lot of high profile shows to try to show that my family is involved in corruption but more than a year later there is no evidence, only alleged acts.”
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