As more unrest looms, Peru leader calls for 'calm'

Peruvian President Dina Boluarte on Tuesday called on protesters descending on Lima to demand her resignation to gather "peacefully and calmly."

The South American country has been rocked by over five weeks of deadly protests since the ouster and arrest of former president Pedro Castillo in early December.

Thousands of protesters from rural areas are expected in Lima this week to keep up pressure against the government, even as a state of emergency was declared to try to maintain order.

Some have already arrived in the capital but many are still on their way.

Hundreds of members of the indigenous Aymara community were boarding buses from the city of Ilave in the Puno region, on the border with Bolivia Tuesday.

"I am excited to travel to Lima because the fight continues, all the Aymara blood brothers are traveling to the fight," Julio Cesar Ramos told AFP before boarding a bus to Lima.

"It hurts me to see my country like this, that is why Aymara and Quechua brothers, we are united as one," Roger Mamani, 28, told AFP.

At least 42 people have died in clashes between protesters and security forces, largely in the country's south and east, according to Peru's human rights ombudsman.

Various groups are demanding Boluarte's resignation, the dissolution of parliament and immediate fresh elections.

"We know they want to take Lima, given everything that is coming out on social media, on the 18th and 19th (Wednesday and Thursday)," Boluarte said in a speech at Peru's Constitutional Court.

"I call on them to take Lima, yes, but peacefully and calmly. I am waiting for them in the seat of government to discuss their social agendas."

But she warned that "the rule of law cannot be hostage to the whims" of a single group of people.

Demonstrators from all over Peru have arranged to meet in the capital to protest together, but despite various announcements, it is still difficult to determine how many people will arrive in Lima.

Protesters have maintained almost 100 road blocks throughout eight of Peru's 25 departments.

Security forces cleared one roadblock on the Panamericana Norte highway in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Boluarte said other roadblocks would be dismantled in coming hours.

Former president Castillo was removed from office and arrested on December 7, after attempting to dissolve the country's legislature and rule by decree, amid multiple corruption investigations.

Boluarte, who was Castillo's vice president, succeeded him but despite belonging to the same left-wing party, his supporters have rejected her, even accusing her of being a "traitor."

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