Peru’s politicians have voted to remove the country’s president, Martin Vizcarra from office in an impeachment vote.
President Vizcarra is accused of taking bribes years ago and mismanaging the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move was supported by 105 of Peru’s 130 members of Congress – more than the two-thirds required to impeach a president.
Peru has the highest COVID-19 mortality rate per capita and some blame the president for oxygen shortages and the misuse of rapid antibody tests.
During the five-hour debate, Congressman Robinson Gupioc told his colleagues, “Because of his negligence and incapacity we’ve lost thousands of compatriots.”
The world’s second-biggest copper producer also faces a difficult recovery from economic recession.
Mr Vizcarra, accused of accepting more than £480,000 in bribes for the authorization of two construction contracts when he was governor of Moquegua, a province in southern Peru, between 2011 and 2014 called the corruption allegations “baseless” and “false”, but politicians said they did not believe him.
Prosecutors are investigating but have not charged him.
In an appearance outside the presidential residence, the 57-year-old said he would not fight the decision.
“Today I am leaving the government palace, today I am going home,” he said.
Before the vote, he also warned that any impeachment could throw the country into turmoil as it grapples with a severe economic recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Some analysts, however, said the vote was a risky power grab, especially as Mr Vizcarra is one of Peru’s most popular leaders.
Among those who supported Mr Vizcarra, George Forsyth, a mayor and early front-runner for next year’s election, said the ousting was a “coup in disguise”.
Francisco Sagastegui, a lawmaker representing the centrist Partido Morado, also called the vote an “incorrect decision”.
“We think this is… a decision that adds much more uncertainty, creates problems, and will severely affect our citizens,” he said.
A number of Mr Vizcarra’s supporters were also gathered outside after the vote, many of them shouting, “Get out, coup plotters”.
Mr Vizcarra became president in 2016 after his predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, resigned amid allegations of vote buying and had promised that defeating corruption would be his main mission.
But he had few allies in Congress, and Peru’s laws allow politicians to dismiss a president on the vague grounds of “moral incapacity”.
He has on his part been embroiled in a bitter battle with Congress, which is dominated by rival parties, since he took office.
Last year, the president dissolved Congress arguing that lawmakers were obstructing his anti-corruption agenda.
A new Congress was elected in January but tension remains high between the legislative and the executive with Mr Vizcarra accusing lawmakers of fostering “chaos and disorder”.
Head of Congress, Manuel Merino, from the minority party Popular Action, is expected to assume presidency later on 10th November and will remain in office until the end of July 2021.
He has promised the presidential election will go ahead as planned on 11th April, 2020.
Leave a Reply