Peru’s socialist President Pedro Castillo was reportedly arrested Wednesday after being impeached and removed from office for staging a coup to stay in power.
During his first 16 months in power, Castillo has faced six criminal investigations and three impeachment attempts, including the one that removed him from power this week, The New York Times reported.
Prosecutors accused Castillo of leading a crime syndicate that profited off government contracts and obstructed justice, the report said. Castillo claims those allegations are false.
Castillo tried to avoid being impeached by announcing that he was dissolving Congress and forming a new emergency government.
The move was seen by even his closest allies as “an attempted coup to cling to power,” and it was instantly ruled unconstitutional by the top court. The country’s military and police forces said that they would not support him.
“Any act contrary to the established constitutional order represents an infraction to the Constitution and will lead to the non-acceptance by the Armed Forces and the Police,” the Joint Command of the Armed Forces reportedly said in a statement. “The citizenship is called to remain calm and trust in the state institutions legally established.”
By the end of the day, his vice president, Dina Boluarte, was sworn in as president, and Castillo was placed under arrest.
“I reject Pedro Castillo’s decision to break the constitutional order by closing the Congress,” Boluarte said. “This is a coup d’etat that deepens the political and institutional crisis, and Peruvian society will have to overcome the crisis with a strict attachment to the law.”
Castillo, who used to be a farmer, teacher, and union head, spoke publicly hours before an impeachment vote was set to happen. He said he would rule the country by decree as new legislative elections are set up.
“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.
He also established an immediate nationwide curfew, which was set to last from 10 p.m. on Wednesday to 4 a.m. Thursday.
Many officials in his government resigned after his announcement on Wednesday.
Charlotte Pence Bond contributed to this report.