Peru’s Congress has voted to remove President Martín Vizcarra in an impeachment trial over corruption allegations – the second such effort to remove him in a matter of months.
The opposition-dominated Congress, following a debate, achieved the 87-vote threshold out of 130 needed to oust the centrist leader over accusations that he accepted bribes as a governor from companies that won public works contracts.
His removal from office threatens to embroil the world’s second-largest copper producer in political turmoil as it looks to recover from an economic recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Vizcarra, 57, lacked a party in a fragmented Congress, creating a degree of uncertainty of how lawmakers may finally vote. In September they voted against his ouster in a separate impeachment trial over alleged links to a case of irregular government contracts with a little-known singer.
Vizcarra, who has long campaigned against official graft, denied as “baseless” and “false” the latest allegations that he accepted bribes from companies that won public works contracts when he was the governor of the southern region of Moquegua.
He warned of “unpredictable consequences” on Monday if lawmakers impeached him just months ahead of the 11 April presidential election in which he is not eligible to run.
The head of Congress, Manuel Merino, a member of the minority party Popular Action, will assume the presidency until the end of July 2021 when Vizcarra’s term was due to expire.