March 25, 2023

Lima, Peru – Like many Peruvian leaders before her, Dina Boluarte can be described as an “accidental” president.

Boluarte, like many of the past heads of states, takes over the leadership of a nation that is deeply divided and frustrated after a series of dramatic political events.

Jo-Marie Burt is an associate professor at George Mason University, and a senior fellow with the Washington Office on Latin America.

Burt said that Peru’s current presidents have not been able to fulfill their five-year mandate. This highlights the instability and exhaustion in the current political system.

Boluarte’s rise comes after a frenetic day when her predecessor, President Pedro Castillo, was impeached by Peruvian lawmakers and subsequently detained by police on charges of carrying out a “coup d’état”.

The 60-year-old mother, lawyer and former vice president under Castillo was sworn in Wednesday, just hours after the opposition-led Peruvian Congress voted overwhelmingly — 101 to 6 — to remove Castillo from office.

The vote was called after the leftist, now ex-leader, tried to dissolve Peru’s legislature and forge an Emergency Government. This move was widely condemned by Peruans as a violation the Constitution.

The political drama unfolded in a fraction of the time it takes to complete a work day. Hours of television news aired Boluarte’s swearing-in and Castillo’s deposition, arrest, and detention at a Lima police prison.

Peru’s attorney general has confirmed that Castillo is being investigated on charges of “rebellion” and “conspiracy” — and a judge sentenced him to seven days in pre-trial detention on Thursday. Many thousands of Peruvians took to the streets to celebrate Castillo’s departure and protest.

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Political outsider

As uncertainty continues swirling over the fate the ex-president, attention now turns to Boluarte. Boluarte is a relatively unknown figure in Peruvian politics, having served as Castillo’s running partner in 2021.

Boluarte, like the ex-president comes from the rugged hinterland. She was born in Apurimac, a small town in the southern Andean region of Apurimac. She is fluent in Quechua and Spanish.

Boluarte was a Peruvian lawyer who worked at the National Registration and Identification Agency. The agency maintains records for birth, death, and marriage. Castillo was also vice president. She served as Minister for Development and Social Inclusion until she resigned two weeks ago as part of a new round in cabinet changes.

Despite mounting constitutional turmoil, a bitterly divided Congress, an electorate weary from political whiplash, rising fuel and food prices, and an emerging fifth wave COVID-19, she is elected to power.

Burt said that Burt will be unable to form alliances or fill high-ranking government positions as she is an outsider political figure with few congressional allies, or the support from the far-left Free Peru party, which catapulted Burt into national and international politics.

“SheBurt stated that he would have to resign from the president before he could be considered a candidate. “She A Congress that is controlled and encouraged by a loose coalition far-right parties also faces the challenge of being controlled by Congress [that] Castillo was removed and Castillo’s excitement over yesterday’s events has prompted them to seek his removal.

Message of unity

Boluarte, however, was quick to reject Castillo’s attempt to dissolve Congress. He stated via Twitter that the move would “exacerbate Peru’s political and institutional crisis.”

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After being sworn-in, she also promised to form a government in national unity with the goal of promoting a program of social inclusion and fighting corruption.

Boluarte has her own political baggage. In May, Boluarte was charged with a violation Peruvian law. She was a board member for two Lima private clubs while she was serving as government minister. 10 years in public office. Boluarte was found not to have violated any laws by a congressional investigation.

On Thursday, she called for a political truce. She also launched talks with several congressional blocs in the presidential palace. Peruvian media reported that the new president was in the process to form a ministerial cabinet. This requires Congress’s approval.

Peru’s new president Dina Boluarte requested a political cease-fire just one day after she took office. This was following the vote by the Peruvian Congress on Wednesday to remove President Pedro Castillo and replace him with the vice-president [Fernando Vergara/AP Photo]

According to Cynthia McClintock (political analyst), the question is now whether Boluarte can temper Peruvians’ desire to start over. McClintock told Al Jazeera via email that she is Peru’s first woman president.

McClintock, a Peruvian resident in the country’s marginalized inner, said McClintock that “lawmakers in Lima might fear a backlash, if they remove the 2nd consecutive president from that region.”

Some pro-Castillo protests

Thursday saw a fragile calm in central Lima. Just a day before, large numbers of Castillo supporters had denounced Boluarte’s arrest as a “kidnapping”. Others even went so far to call Boluarte’s ascent treacherous.

“[Boluarte] Our people were betrayed. We are here to proclaim that we will never accept her as our president,” Clemente Dominico, a father and small business technician from the southern Andes who lives in Lima, told Al Jazeera during a protest on Wednesday.

Castillo’s disapproval with the majority of Peruvians means that analysts don’t believe his removal will spark large-scale protests.

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Boluarte indicated that she would continue Castillo’s term which expires in 2026. However it is not clear whether Boluarte will agree to early presidential as well as congressional elections. According to a poll, 87 percent believe that the best way forward for Peru is to call new general election. Bearing By the Peruvian think-tank IEP.

Boluarte suggested Thursday that she might consider holding an early election. This would require an amendment of Peru’s 1993 constitution. She said, “I know there are voices calling for an early election and this would be democratically acceptable.”

McClintock stated that new elections could present their own challenges as “the country’s political parties remain in grave disorder.” They can be difficult to sell to Peruvians who are growing frustrated with the political process.

Burt, George Mason University, asked the question “is she more concerned in her own political survival or stay true to her mandate of economic and political change in which she has to somehow build a coalition of herself?”

“Both are extremely hard and have their own costs.”