Peru's congress backs impeachment moves against president

Peru's congress backs impeachment moves against president
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Peru's congress has voted by a wide margin to reopen impeachment proceedings against President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, thrusting the Andean nation into renewed political turmoil.

The move comes as Peru prepares to host President Donald Trump at a regional summit less than a month away.

It is the second time politicians have threatened to remove the former Wall Street investor over his ties to the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which is at the centre of Latin America's biggest corruption scandal.

In December, Mr Kuczynski narrowly avoided being voted out of office after a small opposition faction including the son of then-jailed former President Alberto Fujimori abstained.

Days later, Mr Kuczynski pardoned Mr Fujimori from a 25-year jail sentence for human rights abuses committed during his decade-long rule.

But analysts say his chances of survival look slimmer this time.

The deeply unpopular president has become increasingly isolated as one-time allies abandon him and polls show a majority of Peruvians want Mr Kuczynski out.

"He's going to have a lot more difficulty," said Eduardo Dargent, a political science professor at Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

The measure adopted on Thursday inviting Mr Kuczynski to appear before congress next week to defend his actions had the support of 87 politicians, the same number needed to eventually oust the president on grounds of "moral incapacity".

Fifteen opposed the action and another 15 abstained.

At the heart of Mr Kucyznski's troubles is 782,000 dollars in payments that Odebrecht made to his private consulting firm more than a decade earlier.

For months, Mr Kuczynski had denied having any political or business ties with Odebrecht even as three of his predecessors were investigated for taking bribes from the company.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying some 800 million dollars in bribes to officials across Latin America, including 29 million dollars to politicians in Peru, as part of a plea agreement with the US Justice Department in 2016.

The Odebrecht scandal has ensnared some of the region's most prominent politicians and jolted Peru, where two former presidents stand accused of accepting money from the construction empire.

Analysts say the latest rocky chapter in Mr Kuczynski's presidency could negatively impact the nation's economy.

The timing of the impeachment proceedings could not be worse.

In less than a month Peru is scheduled to host Mr Trump and other leaders for the Summit of the Americas, whose main theme is how to combat corruption in the Western Hemisphere.

Peru's prime minister Mercedes Araoz said after Thursday's vote that the attempt to oust Mr Kuczynski "destroys Peru's image as a country built on clear, democratic rules".

Mr Kuczynski has denied any wrongdoing and says he will not step down.

If he is removed he would be replaced by Vice President Martin Vizcarra, a former governor who is currently serving as Peru's ambassador to Canada.

"As I've said from the beginning, I don't have anything to hide," Mr Kuczynski wrote on Twitter.

"And I am willing to give evidence with absolute transparency."

- PA

More in this Section

Saudi restaurants no longer need to segregate women and menSaudi restaurants no longer need to segregate women and men

Piero Terracina, Auschwitz survivor from Italian Jewish community, diesPiero Terracina, Auschwitz survivor from Italian Jewish community, dies

Pair arrested in UK on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offencesPair arrested in UK on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences

Labour party claim more than 4,600 deaths linked to NHS patient safety incidentsLabour party claim more than 4,600 deaths linked to NHS patient safety incidents


Lifestyle

A decade on from their split, Nicole Scherzinger, Ashley Roberts, Kimberly Wyatt, Carmit Bachar and Jessica Sutta are back together for a tour of the UK and Ireland in April next year.The Pussycat Dolls: Using the second of their nine lives

Ellie O’Byrne paid a visit to the Kabin in Knocknaheeny to see the supportive atmosphere that gave rise to the duo behind the ‘Yeah Boy’ hit.You’d need to have had your head buried in the sand not to have come across MC Tiny and MC The King

Aoife Buckley, one of the recipients of this year's Gaisce Gold award: It's ok to be different.School Daze with Aoife Buckley: I started working towards the Gaisce Awards in third year

Festive seasons come and go, but some moments can never be forgotten, discovers Donal O’Keeffe.Stories of Christmas past and present

More From The Irish Examiner