Peruvian Congress president Martin Vizcara has voted to launch impeachment proceedings for “moral incompetence” in an attempt to thwart an investigation into nearly $ 50,000 in government contracts entrusted to a well-known singer.
Friday’s motion was approved by 65 votes to 36, with 24 abstentions.
Fifty-two votes from the 130-member Congress are due to begin the trial next week, while 87 votes are needed to remove Vizcara from office.
Six of the nine parties – representing 95 of the 130 seats in Congress.
The move plunged Peru into further crisis as it battles one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. The Andean nation is also in the throes of a financial crisis, with the pandemic reducing its second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) by 30 percent.
Vizcara, who is not a party member and has been in power since 2018, has said he will not resign.
Last September, Vizcara faced a previous attempt to impeach on incompetence and dissolved Congress.
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The latest crisis began when opposition legislator Edgar Allarcon submitted three audio recordings to Congress, claiming that the president had tried to get his aides to cover meetings with artist Richard Cisneros, an artist who had won government contracts for 175,400 feet worth of motivational talks. Pand 49,500) at the height of the epidemic.
Agreements with Cisneros, also known as Richard Swing, are being investigated by Parliament and the Auditor General of Peru.
Cisneros campaigned for Pedro Pablo Kuzjinsky, who resigned as president in 2018, and was replaced by then-vice president Vizcara.
In the audios, Vizcara appears to have admitted to having two meetings with the singer and instructed his staff to show the meetings less.
Critics say the conventions and agreements show a pattern of fanaticism, but Wiscarra denies any wrongdoing.
The president agreed to learn about Cisneros, but said he had no role in the deals given.
He told reporters on Friday that the latest challenge was a “conspiracy to destabilize the government.”
“I am going to resign, I have a commitment to Peru and I will fulfill it until the last day of my mandate,” he said.
Vizcara has already said he will not run again in next year’s presidential election.
“Peru’s democracy is unfortunately sinking further into crisis,” said Steve Levitsky, a political scientist at Harvard University. “Removing the president is a really big thing, it needs serious discussion, public discussion and investigation. Nothing happened.”
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