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Peru's president moves to dissolve Congress ahead of impeachment vote

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo will dissolve Congress and install an emergency government to rule by decree, he announced Wednesday, just hours before a scheduled impeachment vote.

"We have taken the decision to establish a government of exception, to reestablish the rule of law and democracy to which effect the following measures are dictated: to dissolve Congress temporarily, to install a government of exceptional emergency, to call to the shortest term possible to elections for a new Congress with the ability to draft a new Constitution," Castillo said, per The New York Times.

Castillo also imposed a national curfew and urged citizens to turn in any illegal firearms, the Times and The Wall Street Journal add. Several members of his administration resigned in the wake of the announcement, including the minister of foreign affairs, who accused the president of "violating the Constitution."

Peruvian Congress had scheduled its third impeachment vote against Castillo for Wednesday afternoon; proceedings look set to nonetheless move forward, Reuters reports. Omar Cairo, a constitutional lawyer who has expressed sympathy for Castillo and believes the impeachment vote unlawful, told the Times: "Congress is still contemptible, but what Castillo has done is a manifest coup d'état." The dissolution is "completely illegal," political analyst Andrea Moncada told Bloomberg.

This isn't Peru's first brush with political turmoil — in 2020, for example, President Martin Vizcarra was impeached after dissolving Congress, Reuters adds.

"We strongly urge President Castillo to reverse his attempt to close Congress and allow Peru's democratic institutions to function as outlined in Peru's constitution," said Brian Nichols, a top U.S. diplomat with a focus on Latin America.