Political crisis in Peru: President Martín Vizcarra denied the accusations before a Congress that seeks to remove him

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It is the second time in less than two months that Parliament has sought to declare the “presidential vacancy.” 87 votes are needed out of a total of 130 legislators.

The president of Peru, Martín Vizcarra, defended himself this Monday before Congress and refused to be corrupt, in a second political trial in less than two months that can remove him from power for “moral incapacity”, just over eight months after completing his term.

In a kind of “remake” of a trial that was successful on September 18Vizcarra once again runs the risk of having a fate similar to that of his predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki, who was unable to complete his term as he was forced to resign due to pressure from parliament.

“I emphatically and categorically reject these accusations”“I have not collected any bribes,” Vizcarra told the plenary, denying the accusations that he received bribes for public works contracts in 2014, when he was governor of the southern region of Moquegua.

“Here I am willing to clarify any of the facts that are falsely imputed to me”, but “this vacancy process lacks support,” added the president, who made his personal defense for 51 minutes, without his lawyer Angel Fernando Ugaz taking the floor.

This new lightning trial was opened in the morning by the head of Congress, the opposition Manuel Merino, who should assume the reins of the country in case Vizcarra is dismissed, until completing the current government period, on July 28, 2021.

Merino is a low-profile politician, almost unknown to Peruvians, just like Vizcarra when he took office two and a half years ago.

After making his discharges, the president withdrew from Congress to undertake a work tour to the central region of Junín, while the parliamentarians took a break to then start a long debate before proceeding to the vote.

Due to biosafety protocols due to the coronavirus, an official took Vizcarra’s temperature when entering Congress and most of the parliamentarians participated in the plenary by videoconference.

In the previous trial, Vizcarra was accused of urging two government officials to lie about a questioned contract for a singer, but his opponents They only got 32 votes, far from the 87 needed to remove it.

The accusations of alleged corruption have not dented the high citizen support that this 57-year-old provincial engineer has, without a party or legislative bench, who assumed power after the resignation of Kuczynski, of whom he was vice president, on March 23, 2018.

It is unknown if his opponents have 87 votes this time to declare the “presidential vacancy”, because it is difficult to make forecasts in the fragmented Peruvian Congress, where several parties are not going to vote en bloc.

Vizcarra highlighted in his discharges that a vacancy (dismissal) “is an extreme measure”, which should not be applied by Congress “every month and a half.”

If Vizcarra is removed, Merino would become the third president of Peru since 2016, a reflection of the institutional fragility that has characterized the old Spanish viceroyalty since its independence in 1821.

Congress admitted the vacancy motion a week ago by 60 votes in favor, 40 against and 18 abstentions, five months before the presidential and legislative elections.

As in the previous trial, there are no ideological issues in this disputeSince both the president and the parliamentary majority are of the center-right, but there is in many parliamentary groups the desire to collect old “bills” from the president and postpone the presidential elections scheduled for April.

Nor is the handling of Peru’s big problems, such as the economic recession, the coronavirus pandemic or a diphtheria outbreak that forced an emergency vaccination, is in discussion.

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