RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The interim president of Peru, Francisco Sagasti, described this Friday, June 18, as “unacceptable” the letter of a group of retired military officers who asked the high command of the Armed Forces not to recognize the leftist Pedro Castillo as president-elect and thus suggesting in practice a coup d’état.
In a nationally televised message together with the Prime Minister, Violeta Bermudez, and the Minister of Defense, Nuria Esparch, Sagasti announced that the letter, which was broadcast on Thursday night, has been sent to the Prosecutor’s Office so that they may proceed with the investigations they deem appropriate.
“It is unacceptable that a group of people retired from the Armed Forces pretend to incite high commanders to break the rule of law,” Sagasti assured. “I reject this type of communications that are not only contrary to the values and democratic institutionality, but are also acts against the Constitution and the laws”, he added.
The president recalled that “in a democracy, the Armed Forces are not deliberative, they are absolutely neutral and scrupulously respectful of the Constitution”. “It has cost us a lot of time and effort to build our democratic institutionality throughout our turbulent 200 years of republican life. Let us not jeopardize it,” Sagasti warned.
“As supreme chief of the Armed Forces and National Police, I guarantee neutrality and demand that it be respected. I exhort the citizenry to remain calm and serene in the difficult moments we are living a few days away from commemorating the bicentennial of our independence”, he concluded.
The letter from the retired military was addressed to the head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces and the general commanders of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
According to Sagasti, the letter had only one signature, followed by a list of people supposedly supporting this communication. However, several of them were from former military officers already deceased, according to local media.
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The communication urges the military hierarchy not to recognize the electoral triumph of Pedro Castillo due to the denunciations of “systematic fraud” made, without reliable supporting evidence, by the right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, the loser of the presidential election of last Sunday 6th.
With the vote counted completed, Castillo is the presumptive president-elect of Peru, having obtained 44,058 more votes than Fujimori, in a tight election where the leftist obtained 50.12% of the valid votes against 49.87% of his rival.
However, the official proclamation has been delayed due to the appeals filed by Fujimori to annul some 200,000 votes from rural and Andean areas where Castillo had overwhelming support, under the repeated argument (without credible evidence) that there was “systematic fraud” at the polling stations.
ILLEGAL REQUEST FOR NEW ELECTIONS
In that scenario, this large group of several hundred retired military personnel asks not to recognize Castillo in case the official electoral juries disregard the complaints of the Fujimori party Fuerza Popular.
“We would have an illegal and illegitimately proclaimed president”, says the letter, which also advises recourse to Congress “to provide a democratic solution”.
The same thesis is maintained by the elected congressman of the ultra-conservative Popular Renewal party, Jorge Montoya, a retired Navy admiral, who suggested that the new Congress that takes office on July 28 call new elections if a new president has not yet been proclaimed by that date.
Montoya’s suggestion is illegal and is not supported by any law, and completely self-serving. If it were to happen, Montoya would assume the interim presidency since he will have the leadership of the Legislative branch as the congressman elected with the most votes.