Peru’s interim President Manuel Merino steps down amid protests

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Nov. 15 (UPI) — Peru’s interim President Manuel Merino stepped down Sunday, days after the nation’s Congress ousted President Martin Vizcarra.

Merino announced his resignation amid protests over Congress’ decision to remove Vizcarra over unproven bribery allegations, saying his cabinet will remain in place until a new leader is selected to avoid a power vacuum.

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“At this time, when the country is experiencing one of its biggest political cries, I want the whole country to know that I’m presenting my irrevocable resignation,” he said.

Congress said it would convene Sunday evening to select a new replacement.

Congress voted 105-19 to impeach the 57-year-old Vizcarra from office, as he said he didn’t agree with the decision but would not contest it.

Vizcarra took office in 2018, vowing to fight corruption, after his predecessor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned a day before a vote on his own impeachment.

The ousting of Vizcarra prompted demonstrations that began in the capital city of Lima, then spread to other cities throughout the nation.

It is unclear if Peruvians would accept Congress’ choice to replace Merino, as Vizcarra had become popular during his two years as president and people in the country are largely critical of Congress as many members face investigations for corruption and other crimes.