Pedro Castillo sworn in as Peru’s new President

Pedro Castillo has been sworn in as the new President of Peru, after weeks of uncertainty following defeating a right-wing rival in a hard-fought presidential runoff.

“It is the first time that our country will be governed by a peasant, a person who, like many Peruvians, belongs to the sectors oppressed for so many centuries,” Castillo said in his first speech as President on Wednesday after he was sworn in.

Castillo was sworn in at midday local time (17:00 GMT) on Wednesday in the capital.

A former Marxist village schoolteacher, he announced a series of reforms, including drafting a new Constitution, after receiving the presidential sash from the highest authority in parliament as the Presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador looked on.

Priorities for his government include fighting the pandemic, economic recovery, education, and creating a ministry for science and innovation. “I want you to know that you have my word, we will not disappoint you, I will not disappoint you,” Castillo added.

According to the final election results of the June 6 runoff , Castillo obtained 8,836,380 votes, or 50.12 per cent, while rival Keiko Fujimori garnered 8,792,117 votes, or 49.87 per cent, a margin of just 44,263 votes.

Three days of ceremonies are planned, starting with Wednesday’s inauguration on Peru’s independence day that will be attended by Spanish King Felipe VI, six Latin American leaders, former Bolivian President Evo Morales, and the United States education secretary, among others.

A military parade is planned for Lima on Friday.

Many Peruvians have high hopes that Castillo will be able to deliver jobs and healthcare and continue the country’s coronavirus vaccine roll-out. Peru has been hard-hit by the pandemic, recording the highest Covid-19 death toll per capita in the world. More than 195,000 people have died due to the virus in the South American nation to date, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

(With IANS inputs)

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