Peruvian authorities have begun high-level talks to try to resolve a deep political crisis caused by the ousting of the former president.

The Council of State, an organization made up of representatives from all branches of power, and church leaders held a three-hour meeting in the capital, Lima, the BBC reported. Earlier, two government ministers resigned following violent protests against the impeachment of Pedro Castillo on December 7.

More than 20 people have lost their lives in the ongoing unrest, according to the BBC.

Jose Avila, head of the National Board of Justice, called on Peruvians to avoid violence and engage in peaceful dialogue with authorities after a meeting Friday evening.

He said, to promote such dialogue, the government ministers will travel to the areas where the people are protesting.

However, the country’s new president, Dina Boulwart, did not make any statement to the media.

On the other hand, the protesters forcibly closed the local airport. As a result, thousands of tourists were stranded in the southeastern city of Cusco.

Peru has gone through years of political turmoil. The latest crisis in the country began when Castillo dissolved Congress and declared a state of emergency.

However, his plan failed and Congress voted overwhelmingly to impeach him instead. Castillo is currently in custody. Allegations of sedition and conspiracy leveled against him are being investigated.

But he denied all the allegations and insisted that he is still the legitimate president of the country.

Demonstrators are calling for a shutdown of Congress, Bouluart’s resignation and early elections. On Friday, the Congress voted against the proposal to bring forward the elections to next year.

At least eight people were killed in clashes between the army and Castillo supporters in the central Ayacucho region on Thursday, health authorities said. Footage on social media showed protesters blocking major roads and airports.

Just hours later, Education Minister Patricia Correa said she was resigning. In a Twitter post on Friday, he wrote, ‘There is no justification for the death of compatriots. State violence cannot be disproportionate and cause death.’

Meanwhile, Minister of Culture Jair Perez also resigned. The protests are also affecting the country’s tourism industry. Cusco’s mayor told AFP news agency that about 5,000 tourists were stranded in the city after the airport was closed when protesters tried to stage a demonstration at the terminal.

The city is the gateway to Machu Picchu. It is originally an ancient Inca citadel and hundreds of thousands of people flock to see it every year. Also, around 800 tourists are stuck in the small town where the fort is located at the foot of the hill due to suspension of rail services.

Some of the stranded tourists, mainly American and European tourists, reportedly left the city on foot along the train tracks in an attempt to return to Cusco.

(Dhaka Times / 17 December / SAT)