Peru's interim president quit Sunday amid massive protests over Congress ousting the nation's popular leader. Manuel Merino said his swearing-in as head of state on Tuesday was legal, despite protesters' allegations that the assembly had staged a parliamentary coup. "I, like everyone, want what's best for our country," he said in a televised address. Merino also called for an investigation into the protests, alleging some groups of the demonstrators simply wanted to cause trouble. His predecessor, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached on corruption allegations on Monday. He has denied any wrongdoing. Luis Valdez, the current head of Congress, had urged Merino to step down earlier on Sunday. "We should put above all else the lives of the Peruvian people," said Valdez, who himself plans to resign.
Merino's decision came after a night of unrest in which dozens of protesters were injured from blunt force, tear gas or projectiles. A network of human rights groups reported that 112 people had been hurt and the whereabouts of 41 others were unknown. Health authorities said the dead included Jack Pintado, 22, who was shot 11 times, including in the head, and Jordan Sotelo, 24, who was hit four times in the thorax near his heart.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets across several Peruvian cities as citizens vented their frustrations at the impeachment of Vizcarra. Amnesty International and local United Nations representatives have in recent days accused the police of using excessive force in their efforts to quell the unrest.
Recently deposed President Vizcarra is accused of taking 2.3 million soles ($636,000, €537,000) in bribes from a construction firm while he was governor of the Moquegua region from 2011 to 2014. Vizcarra repeated his claims of innocence prior to the impeachment vote, accusing the opposition of trying to destabilize the country. Following Merino's decision to resign, the Congress is now set to appoint a new president on Sunday.
The interim president of Peru, Manuel Merino, has stepped down amid nationwide fury over the killing of two protesters in a heavy-handed police clampdown on pro-democracy demonstrations on Saturday.
CGTN's Dan Collyns reports. Peru's interim president Manuel Merino has resigned after deadly protests and a mass resignation from his cabinet.
He took on the role only five days ago after the former president Martin Vizcarra was removed over bribery allegations, which he denies.
Tens of thousands of people have been protesting since Vizcarra stepped down. Peru's interim president, Manuel Merino, resigned on Sunday, less than a week into his new administration, after protests calling for his removal left two dead and dozens injured, plunging the country into yet another political crisis. Scenes of celebration in Peru after the interim president, Manuel Merino, announced his resignation.
He had been on the job for just five days, but quit after a night of protests calling for his removal and a subsequent police crackdown left at least two dead and dozens wounded.
With his resignation, Peru's plunges deeper into its worst constitutional crisis in two decades.
Merino replaced Martin Vizcarra, who was removed from office over corruption allegations.
Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez reports from Lima, Peru.