Peru’s government has declared a state of emergency in the capital of Lima and three other regions following weeks of protests against President Dina Boluarte that have claimed at least 42 lives.
The measure, in force for 30 days, authorises the army to intervene to maintain order and suspends several constitutional rights such as freedom of movement and assembly, according to a decree published in the official gazette on Saturday.
In addition to the capital, the state of emergency covers the regions of Cusco and Puno and the port of Callao, adjacent to Lima.
More than 100 roadblocks, setup by protesters to disrupt traffic, were in place across Peru on Saturday, mainly in the south, which has been the epicentre of the protests, and also around Lima.
Authorities have, however, reopened Cusco international airport, which is vital to Peru’s tourism sector.
On Friday Boluarte insisted she would not step down in a late-night address on state TV.
“Some voices that have come from the violent and radical factions are asking for my resignation, provoking the population into chaos, disorder and destruction,” Boluarte said.
“I will not resign. My commitment is with Peru.”
In the address, Boluarte lamented that the protests had at times turned violent.
“I cannot stop reiterating my regret for the deaths of Peruvians in these protests,” she said. “I apologise for this situation.”
But she rejected the possibility of calling a constitutional assembly as demanded by protesters, pointing to the difficulties Peru’s neighbour Chile has had in drafting and approving a new constitution.
“That cannot happen overnight,” Boluarte said.
The mass anti-government demonstrations first broke out in early December, after then-president Pedro Castillo was ousted from office for attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, seeking to prevent an impeachment vote against him.
Castillo’s supporters have marched and barricaded streets around the South American country demanding new elections and Boluarte’s removal.
Boluarte, who is from the same leftwing party as Castillo, has insisted she will not step down.
Peru has faced political instability in recent years, with Boluarte the sixth person to hold the presidency in five years.
Castillo, who was being investigated in several fraud cases during his tenure, has been remanded in custody for 18 months, charged with rebellion.
On Friday, opposition legislator Susel Paredes told local radio that time was running out for Boluarte and that the resignation of the labor minister, Eduardo Garcia, on Thursday was “the beginning of the end” for the president.
Two other ministers resigned Friday: the heads of the interior ministry and the ministry of women.