Thousands march in Peru demanding president step down

STORY: Thousands turned out in Peru on Thursday for an anti-government protest demanding the president step down.

The peaceful mass rally came after weeks of more violent civil unrest sparked by the ousting of president Dina Boluarte’s predecessor, Pedro Castillo.

Bloody clashes between protesters and police have resulted in the deaths of at least 42 people.

On Thursday demonstrators in the capital Lima held a banner calling Boluarte a murderer and placed cardboard coffins in front of police officers.

Olga Espejo was in the rally.

“Ms Dina Boluarte, be aware you’re being used. Why are you turning your back on the people? There are so many deaths, for God's sake, stop this massacre. It’s not fair. I know of people taking to the streets to protest and they are outraged like me. We’re being accused of being terrorists but we aren’t terrorists.”

Thursday in the tourist hub of Cusco was less relaxed as police fired tear gas to curb street protests.

Its international airport, where tourists land to reach the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, was forced to close, the second time in as many months.

Victims injured in recent clashes were flown to a hospital near Lima for treatment.

Peru has been gripped in protests for weeks, demands include Boluarte stepping down, earlier elections, a new constitution and the release of Castillo, who was arrested for “rebellion” after trying to illegally shut down congress.

The country’s Labor Minister resigned on Thursday.

He said the country needs an apology for deaths from its political crisis, and urged the government to admit its mistakes.

Peru’s Prime Minister said on Thursday it’s unlikely Boluarte would resign, “not because she doesn’t want to”, but because she has constitutional requirements to consolidate the succession.

Boluarte and members of her cabinet are being investigated by Peru’s attorney general, for their handling of the unrest.

The same day, Peru's Congress - which fiercely opposed former leader Castillo - passed a vote of confidence in Boluarte’s government.