UPDATE: Peru's Congress selects centrist lawmaker to be new leader

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UPDATE: Peru's Congress selects centrist lawmaker to be new leader

Monday, November 16, 2020

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LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru's political crisis appeared on the verge of resolution Monday as Congress cleared the way for an elder statesman and consensus candidate to become the country's third president in a week.

People waved the nation's red-and-white flag and blared horns on the streets of Peru's capital as Francisco Sagasi of the centrist Purple Party was selected as the new president of Congress.

The 76-year-old engineer has not yet been sworn into office but as head of Congress, he becomes the nation's chief of state by default. Peru currently has no president or vice president, making him next in line.

It will now fall on Sagasi to heal a nation bruised by a week of upheaval.

"What's at stake is making a first step toward rebuilding confidence between the people and the state," said Samuel Rotta, president of the Peruvian chapter of Transparency International.

Applause erupted in the legislative palace as Sagasti clinched the required majority vote. A respected academic, he has also spent decades consulting government institutions and held a post at the World Bank. Shortly after the vote, he took an oath to become Congress' president.

"For our country, for our youth, and for a better future, I do swear," he said.

The Latin American nation's political turmoil took a chaotic turn Sunday when interim leader Manuel Merino quit and Congress couldn't decide on his replacement.

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