Peru president survives impeachment vote amid coronavirus turmoil

WION Web Team
Lima, Peru Updated: Sep 19, 2020, 11:03 AM(IST)

Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Vizcarra struck a defiant tone on Friday facing an impeachment debate in Congress, saying he would not be cowed despite a bid to oust him that has roiled the country over the last week.

Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra has survived an impeachment vote after opposition lawmakers failed to garner enough support to oust the leader as the country copes with one of the world's worst coronavirus outbreaks.

The opposition-dominated Congress cast 32 votes in favor of ousting Vizcarra, short of the 87 out of 130 required to remove him from office on the grounds of "moral incapacity" over alleged links to a case of irregular government contracts with a little-known singer.

There were 78 votes against the measure and 15 abstentions.

Congress voted last week to begin impeachment proceedings, but Vizcarra was expected to survive the Friday ballot after key opposition lawmakers distanced themselves from the plan to oust him despite anger over an economic slump and a severe coronavirus outbreak.

Vizcarra struck a defiant tone on Friday facing an impeachment debate in Congress, saying he would not be cowed despite a bid to oust him that has roiled the country over the last week.

Vizcarra was mounting a defence to lawmakers after they voted to impeach the centrist leader on grounds of "moral incapacity" over alleged links to a case of irregular government contracts with a little-known singer.

Lawmakers voted on Friday evening on whether to oust Vizcarra, though most expected him to survive the ballot after key opposition lawmakers distanced themselves from the plan despite anger over an economic slump and a severe coronavirus outbreak.

"I do not hide, I have not done so before and I am not going to do it now. I am here, with my head high and my conscience clear," Vizcarra said in a 20-minute speech in Congress, adding that the country should not be "distracted" from real challenges.

"It is very serious to have the country plunged into this uncertainty."

The opposition-dominated Congress must gather at least 87 votes out of 130 lawmakers to remove 57-year-old Vizcarra, who does not have his own party representation in the legislature. A vote to start impeachment proceedings gained 65 votes.

If Vizcarra were ousted, the presidency would be assumed by the head of Congress, Manuel Merino.

Vizcarra had claimed that the move is a plot by Congress, which was elected in January after the president dissolved the previous parliament last year in the middle of a fight with the opposition over his anti-corruption reforms.

A recent Ipsos poll had showed that 79% of Peruvians would prefer that Vizcarra fulfill his mandate until mid-next year following elections set to take place in April. Vizcarra is not running in those elections.

Peru has a history of political turmoil, with three attempts to impeach a sitting president in the last five years.

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