Peru's Boluarte exhorts Congress to advance elections amid anger over deaths

FILE PHOTO: Peru's President Dina Boluarte speaks as she meets with foreign press, in Lima, Peru January 24, 2023. REUTERS/Angela Ponce

(Reuters) -Peruvian President Dina Boluarte on Sunday urged lawmakers to reconsider a proposal to advance elections to later this year, promising she would propose a constitutional reform to move general elections to October if lawmakers fail to do so.

Lawmakers were set to continue debate on Monday after rejecting a motion last week that would open the door to holding elections this year.

Friday's vote drew consternation from the president, who is increasingly under pressure as nationwide protests call for her resignation.

In an address to the nation, Boluarte also said if Congress does not reconsider the proposal to move elections, she would present a bill to task the next elected Congress with overseeing a "total reform" of Peru's 1993 constitution.

The reformed constitution would be submitted to a referendum, Boluarte said.

Public anger grew after a protester died in Lima on Saturday night, the first victim in the country's capital since protests began in December.

Peru's attorney general's office said on Sunday it had opened a preliminary investigation into the protester's death as a possible homicide after an autopsy showed the victim died from a head injury caused by a "hard blunt element."

The total death toll from the unrest sits at 58, according to Peru's ombudsman, which on Sunday issued a statement calling for authorities to end the violence.

"The most morally repulsive way to act is to let people die when you have in your hands the political power to bring peace and change today's tragic direction," the statement said.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Boyle; Editing by Tom Hogue and Lincoln Feast.)

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