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Fresh protests grip Lima as a Catholic cardinal rebukes the Peruvian Congress

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Fresh violent street protests swept through downtown Lima on Saturday night, hours after a Roman Catholic cardinal voiced his displeasure at the nation’s congress’ refusal to once again bring forward elections to defuse Peru’s political crisis.

Thousands of protesters clashed with riot police once night fell, scattering in a hail of tear gas but regrouping in an effort to reach Peru’s Congress.

In the last two months of often deadly protests, some protesters have shot police with homemade fireworks.

No number of arrests and injuries was immediately available.

Meanwhile, the Peruvian legislature received a rebuke from a Roman Catholic bishop.

Cardinal Pedro Barreto said, hours after the church’s highest ecclesiastical body sent a letter to lawmakers warning them it was “urgent” to bring forward elections later this year.

Congress the day before closed the door until August on any further discussion to bring forward the general election, currently scheduled for April 2024, to 2023 — a key demand of the near-daily demonstrations crippling the country of 33 million people.

For the fourth time in a week, lawmakers have rejected a bill on election progress, preventing further discussion of procedural technicalities.

The move reduced the prospects for a way out of the crisis, which has claimed 48 lives since December 7, when then-President Pedro Castillo was arrested after he tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.

In December, lawmakers moved the election, originally scheduled for 2026, to April 2024, but as protesters wedged their heels, Dina Boulwart, Castillo’s former vice president, called for the vote to take place this year instead. So.

Boulwart’s original intention was to fulfill Castillo’s mandate until 2026, but amid an explosion of protests, she urged Congress to move the date forward.

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