Kuczynski to face the music, again

11 March 2018

In the early hours of 8 March, Fuerza Popular (FP) announced it had decided to support the initiation of new impeachment proceedings against President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. In the event, 30 members of Congress from various parties signed the motion to begin proceedings.

The justification presented for a new impeachment followed hard on the heels of the testimony offered by Jorge Barata on 27-28 February. As we mentioned last week, among other things Barata itemised the payments made to Kuczynski’s 2011 presidential campaign, payments of which Kuczynski subsequently denied all knowledge. This information was added to previous details concerning Kuczynski’s business dealings with Odebrecht when he was a minister in the Toledo administration.

The new bid to impeach the president was first mooted by the left-wing Frente Amplio and Nuevo Peru groupings which together account for 20 members of Congress. The motion was formally presented by César Villanueva from the Alianza por el Progreso, a small party in Congress. In all, 26 signatures were required and 30 offered.

Kuczynski will now need to come before Congress to justify his defence. He had previously agreed to give evidence to the parliamentary commission investigation the Lava Jato corruption scandals. Once he has had his say, Congress will vote on whether or not to impeach him. This involves 87 members voting in favour out of a total of 130.

Whether or not this will be possible remains unclear. Much will depend on how many members of FP vote for impeachment. Kenji Fujimori has now formally split from FP, along with eleven others. On their own they would be insufficient tomake the vote fail. But other members of FP may also choose to breach party discipline and back Kuczynski.

In part, this would be a way of reducing the risks of Alberto Fujimori returning to jail. If the Inter-American Court on Human Rights opts to order his re-detention, Fujimori supporters would be able to exert considerable leverage on Kuczynski on him to ignore the IACHR ruling. With Kuczynski gone, there would be no such leverage.

Keiko’s statement that Vice-president Martín Vizcarra would be a better president than Kuczynski has been interpreted as a veiled reference to a possible pact with FP. Prime Minister Mercedes Aráoz has said that she will resign as second vice-president if Kuczynski is impeached. 

For his part, Kuczynski has reiterated his refusal to resign, pointing to what he called “traitors” who refuse to let him work

If neither Vizcarra nor Aráoz accepted replacing Kuczynski, the presidency would pass to the president of Congress, the Fuji-stalwart Luis Galarreta. It would be on an interim basis pending new elections.

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