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Peru Congress votes to begin impeachment of Castillo at second attempt – Metro US

Peru Congress votes to begin impeachment of Castillo at second attempt

FILE PHOTO: Chile’s President-elect Boric holds bilateral meetings with leaders
FILE PHOTO: Chile’s President-elect Boric holds bilateral meetings with leaders

By Marco Aquino

(Reuters) -Peru’s Congress on Monday approved the start of impeachment proceedings against President Pedro Castillo over allegations of corruption after failing to gather enough votes in a previous attempt in December.

The opposition-led Congress voted 76-41 to begin the political trial. To dismiss Castillo following the impeachment trial, lawmakers will eventually need 87 votes.

Castillo or his lawyer must attend Congress on March 28 and present their defense before lawmakers debate and have a final vote on the impeachment.

In a speech at a public event on Monday, Castillo said he would go to Congress on Tuesday to deliver a message about “what we are doing, and to say what we will do, for this nation”.

Leftist Castillo has seen his popularity plunge to 26% since taking office in July, according to an Ipsos poll released over the weekend. Lawmakers are zeroing in on the testimony of a lobbyist who has alleged to prosecutors that Castillo engaged in irregular acts.

The attempt to oust Castillo is promoted mainly by three right-wing parties, including Popular Force, led by former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, who lost last year’s elections to Castillo.

The opposition alleges that Castillo, who denies the accusations, is morally unfit to govern.

Castillo came to power with the Marxist Peru Libre party after winning the election by a slim margin and has said that those promoting the impeachment are defending the economic interests of Peru’s rich, and would be engaging in a coup.

The rural teacher, who won the presidency with the backing of the poor, has lost support rapidly amid scandals and social protests.

He has changed cabinet members faster than any administration in recent history and recently appointed his fourth new cabinet. His previous one lasted just a few days before his then-prime minister resigned over domestic violence allegations.

Peru’s economy grew by 13% in 2021 and the local currency sol has recovered ground after falling to its worst level in October. Castillo has become more pragmatic, with a market-friendly economy minister, albeit with some conservative ministers on social policy issues.

Peru, the world’s second largest copper producer, has had five presidents since 2016 including Castillo. In 2018, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned before an impeachment vote he was sure to lose, while Martín Vizcarra was impeached in 2020 in a vote in parliament.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino, Writing by Carolina PuliceEditing by Chris Reese, William Maclean)

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