Merino was president of Congress until he was named interim president after Congress impeached former president Martin Vizcarra on Monday over corruption allegations. Vizcarra has denied the allegations.
Vizcarra’s impeachment sparked protests across the country from Monday and continued for six consecutive nights, leaving at least two dead and 94 injured on Saturday night.
The prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the two deaths. Peru’s Office of the Ombudsman followed the protests and called for an end to the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters on social media.
Protesters, opposition parties and civil society called Vizcarra’s ouster a legislative coup and refused to recognize Merino as the new president. Among those calling for Merino’s resignation were Lima’s mayor Jorge Muñoz, Nobel laureate and influential Peruvian figure Mario Vargas Llosa and the Peruvian National Assembly of regional governors.
Merino became the third president of Peru in less than five years. Vizcarra took office in 2018 following the resignation of former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski amid allegations of corruption and impending indictment. Vizcarra was Kuczynski’s vice president.
In his final speech on Sunday, Merino said all Cabinet members had submitted offers to resign as the crisis unfolded, but that he intended to keep ministers in place until the situation was over. resolved to avoid creating a power vacuum. At least eight cabinet ministers have been confirmed to have resigned between Saturday and Sunday, according to the official Andina news agency.
Following Merino’s resignation, Congress called for a plenary session on Sunday to discuss the appointment of the next president. Presidential elections are scheduled for April next year.