Francisco Sagasti, a Peruvian engineer, scholar, and politician has been elected as the leader of the Peruvian Congress and subsequently the president of the country about 24 hours after Manuel Merino, former Congress leader, and the one-week president resigned from the post. Merino became president last week after Congress impeached Martin Vizcarra, the former president of the country over corruption allegations, AP News reports.
Sagasti addressed the nation during the televised ceremony on Tuesday pledging to restore the people’s lost hope in the system as well as honor the memories of the two young men who were reportedly shot dead by the Peruvian police during the protests on Sunday. Their death had led to the resignation of Merino as well as half of his cabinet. Sagasti explained that nothing can be done to revive the men but his administration will look towards
Some citizens of the country are optimistic that Sagasti’s track record as a builder will help restore the nation’s economy, while others believe they will be getting the same set of what they referred to as “selfish, unfeeling and corrupt” politicians under his rule. Some youths of the country took to the streets in the country’s capital and largest city, Lima after the ceremony to protest the appointment of Sagasti.
“I’m 63 years and through all my years, we’ve not had a decent president in this country, I hope the newly appointed one will be different,” Victor Mezzarina, one of those outside Congress said.
The protests started on Monday after Vizcarra was impeached and Merino, the then leader of Congress was appointed. The lawmakers convened an emergency meeting last Sunday to elect another president but no decision was reached until Sagasti’s swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. Peru went without a president for over 24 hours from Sunday after Merino resigned to Tuesday.
Sagasti who is a trained engineer was elected president after spending a day as the leader of Congress. The constitution stipulates that in the absence of a vice president, Merino didn’t spend enough time as president to choose one; the leader of the Congress will become the president. Sagasti is the author of “Democracy and Good Governance” and other notable works. He was one of those Tupac Amaru rebels took as hostages at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima 24 years ago.
Michael Shifter, head of a think-tank, Inter-American Dialogue, described Sagasti as a capable man who might just be what Peru needs in these times of rising COVID-19 cases and social unrests. Sagasti’s first official assignment was visiting the wounded protesters. He pledged to be an instrument of change in the South American country. He stated that he would rename a scholarship to honor the dead protesters and commended the bravery of the demonstrators in reminding politicians about their first duty to the citizens.
Sagasti was one of the 25 lawmakers who had voted against the impeachment of Vizcarra on November 9. Experts and critics have explained that the president will not be allowed to do much, but he announced on Tuesday that he will begin with ascertaining that the Peruvian economy is better through fiscal sustainability.