Adam Taylor wrote this article in The Washington Post:
Who is the president of Peru? Within the space of one week, the answer to that simple question became a moving target.
On Nov. 9, Martín Vizcarra, a popular independent who had led Peru since 2018, was ousted after an impeachment vote found him guilty of the archaic charge of "moral incapacity." He was succeeded by Manuel Merino, the head of Peru's Congress, who had clashed with the president over reforms.
Critics called it a legislative coup, and masses took to the streets for the biggest protests in decades. After two young protesters died, Merino announced that he would resign. He had been president only five days. And so Peru's Congress quickly put forward a new name for president: Francisco Sagasti.
Sagasti had been a relatively obscure politician, arguably better known for his academic background than his politics. But having declined to support the impeachment proceedings against Vizcarra, he was a compromise choice. He pledged to lead the country as a technocratic interim president ahead of next year's vote on April 11.
However, as he accepted the nomination to be president Tuesday, becoming the third Peruvian leader in barely a week, he acknowledged the grand scale of the task ahead - facing not just him but also all of Peru.
"This is not a moment for celebration; we have too many problems, tragedies and difficulties. It is a moment to ask ourselves: Where did we lose our way?" he said to Congress.
Peru's back-and-forth system of democracy has a deeper history than just a few weeks. Four recent Peruvian presidents have been implicated in corruption scandals; one killed himself ahead of his arrest.
The right-wing populist Alberto Fujimori was pardoned and released from prison midway through a 25-year sentence, only to be sent back to prison a little more than a year later, after his pardon was annulled.
Sagasti will have to navigate rocky political waters with Peru's powerful Congress while also reckoning with a coronavirus pandemic that has left Peru with one of the highest death tolls per capita and a damaged economy. Gross domestic product is expected to drop 14 percent this year.
The plan is to restore faith in the Peruvian political system before the next vote in the spring. "We have little time," new Prime Minister Violeta Bermúdez said in an interview with the El Comercio newspaper, adding that the months "will fly by."