Peru president unveils new bill for 2023 election amid Congress infighting

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

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Dina Boluarte has put forward a new bill to bring elections forward to 2023 in a bid to calm protests around the country as a fractured Congress has repeatedly failed to come to an agreement after weeks of political infighting.

The bill, seen by Reuters, proposes holding congressional and presidential elections in October this year with elected officials taking power in late December. Elected officials would serve a five year term until July 2028.

The Andean country is in the grip of some eight weeks of anti-government protests with 48 people killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, mostly in Peru's copper-rich south. Fast new elections has been a key demand of protesters after former left-wing President Pedro Castillo was ousted in December.

The new bill comes after a series of early elections proposals have failed in Congress, the latest on Wednesday, with fragmented political parties unable to agree on how to move forward despite widespread public support for a snap vote.

Some right-wing members are opposed to having their terms cut short, while left-wing factions have said they will not support a bill unless it also includes a non-binding referendum for a new constitution.

Boluarte, Castillo's former deputy who took over after he tried to illegally dissolve Congress, announced plans for bills for snap elections and a constitutional rewrite over the weekend after violent protests in the capital that left one dead.

Peru Libre, Castillo's party, is scheduled to submit another proposal for early elections and a non-binding referendum later on Thursday, though debate has been delayed. While Boluarte's bill has legislative priority, voting order has yet to be determined.

Protesters around Peru have blocked highways with trees, boulders and tires, taken over regional airports and burned buildings, impacting goods transport, business and the operation of some key mines in the world's No. 2 copper producer.

(Reporting by Alexander Villegas; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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