Peru’s Congress has named centrist legislator Francisco Sagasti as caretaker president, amid a political crisis that has gripped the Andean country since its leader, who maintained an anti-corruption stance, was impeached recently.

On Nov. 16, the 76-year-old Mr. Sagasti received 97 votes in favor and 26 against to head Congress, which means he would constitutionally assume the interim presidency.

Mr. Sagasti, a former World Bank official and engineer, hails from the centrist Morado Party.

He will be the South American country’s third president in a week, after mass protests forced the former speaker of Congress, Manuel Merino, who succeeded centrist Martin Vizcarra, to step down on Nov. 15.


On Nov. 9, the Congress ousted Vizcarra—who had long clashed with lawmakers over his anti-corruption stance and attempts to curb parliamentary immunity—in an impeachment vote over allegations of graft, which he denies.

The ousting of Mr. Vizcarra sparked days of protests in which two people were killed.

“Today is not a day of celebration,” Mr. Sagasti said in his first remarks after taking office in Congress. “We cannot go back, bring them (the dead protesters) back to life, but we can take action from Congress, from the executive, so that this does not happen again.”

Mr. Sagasti is set to be in office until July 2021, when Vizcarra’s term was due to end.

The Nov. 16 appointment of Sagasti appeared to defuse the political tensions, but outrage at police and elected lawmakers continued to unfurl.

Protests took place in cities throughout Peru as night fell, though in smaller numbers than previously.

Some rallied to congratulate Mr. Sagasti, while other demonstrators demanded a new constitution and justice for those killed, injured, or missing. (