By Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun
LIMA (Reuters) -Peru’s Congress confirmed President Pedro Castillo’s new cabinet early on Wednesday – his fourth in just seven months in office – shortly after a group of opposition lawmakers launched a new impeachment effort to try to oust the leftist leader.
Lawmakers voted 64-58 in favor following a lengthy session that started on Tuesday but went well after midnight to approve the new government led by Prime Minister Anibal Torres, a lawyer and former justice minister, who is a close ally of Castillo.
The approval comes as Castillo faces a impeachment effort by opposition lawmakers, having already survived one last year.
Some 50 legislators out of a total of 130 in the country’s unicameral Congress filed an impeachment motion on Tuesday that alleges Castillo is morally unfit for office, citing 20 supposed violations that include the testimony of a lobbyist who has publicly accused him of corruption.
Public approval of Castillo, who denies the accusations, hovers below 30% in recent polls, though the former rural schoolteacher has gained some ground recently amid unprecedented turnover among his ministers.
Castillo’s presidency has been riddled by scandals and political instability. Since taking office in July, he has replaced cabinet members faster than any administration in recent history. His previous prime minister lasted only days before resigning due to allegations of domestic violence.
Those pushing for impeachment face an uphill battle to actually remove Castillo from office and would eventually require 87 votes to do so. While the legislature is controlled by the opposition, an earlier impeachment attempt in December failed to gain enough votes.
A member of a Marxist-Leninist party, Castillo has become more pragmatic over time, appointing some social conservatives to his Cabinet and naming a technocrat to the key finance ministry.
Peru’s economy grew 13% in 2021 and exceeded its pre-pandemic levels, while its sol currency has also gained ground this year.
Castillo is Peru’s fifth president since 2018, when Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned minutes before an impeachment vote he was sure to lose. His successor Martin Vizcarra was ousted after an impeachment vote in 2020.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Frank Jack Daniel)