Three dead in Peru protests as thousands march in Lima

President Manuel Merino faces growing calls to resign

Violent protests continued in Peru on Saturday leading to at least three fatalities as thousands took to the streets in opposition to new President Manuel Merino. About 60 protesters were injured in street clashes.

The mostly young protesters gathered in various cities to oppose what they call a parliamentary coup against former president Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached on corruption allegations on Monday.

Congress Speaker Merino replaced him as Peru's third president in four years.

The largest march in Lima attracted thousands of people, with police firing tear gas from helicopters to disperse protesters who were threatening to march towards the Congress building.

They carried placards reading "Merino, you are not my president" and "Merino impostor" while chanting slogans.

The municipal authorities in Lima, whose mayor belongs to Popular Action, the same centre-right party as Mr Merino, turned off the lighting in Plaza San Martin as the crowd gathered there.

The plaza has been the centre of protests in the capital.

A group of protesters approached the area around Mr Merino's home, east of Lima, banging pots and drums.

Archbishop of Trujillo Miguel Cabrejos urged the government to engage in dialogue and respect citizens' right to protest.

"It is essential to listen and attend to the cries and the clamour of the population to regain confidence, tranquility and social peace," he said.

On Saturday night, Luis Valdez, the head of Congress, told Channel N television: "I ask Mr Merino to evaluate his immediate resignation."

Prime Minister Antero Flores Araoz, 78, a conservative politician, ruled out the president stepping aside because of the protests.

When he took office on Tuesday, Mr Merino said he would respect the calendar for the next general elections, scheduled for April 11, 2021 and would leave power on July 28, 2021, the day when Mr Vizcarra's mandate was to end.

Mr Vizcarra had broad popular support since succeeding Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the former Wall Street banker who was forced to resign under threat of impeachment over corruption allegations in 2018.