Peru's opposition on Monday called for the country’s Vice President Martin Vizcarra to govern the country amid the rapid downfall of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski over graft allegations he denies.
While the disgraced head of state has accused the opposition of seeking his ouster in an effort “to run the state without having won the presidential election,” Peru's political landscape seems dead-set on backing a motion to rid the state of its top executive in a scheduled vote in the opposition-run Congress on Thursday.
Kuczynski has repeatedly said there was nothing improper about recently disclosed business ties that he once denied having with Odebrecht, a Brazilian builder at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal.
A 79-year-old former Wall Street banker, Kuczynski was part of a rightward shift in South American politics when he was elected last year. His fight for survival underscores the risks facing wealthy political leaders with shady business ties and extensive business interests as graft scandals roil the region.
Kuczynski's rapid ouster would pave the way for Vizcarra carrying out the rest of his scheduled 2016-2021 term.
Responding to the beleaguered president's accusations, opposition Congresswoman Luz Salgado denied her party, Popular Force, would seek to topple Vizcarra as charged by opponents.
“If he (Vizcarra) does his job well and assumes the role that history if offering to him, he’ll have our corresponding support,” said Salgado, a key leader in the party. “We’re thinking about what’s best for the country. We’re not trying to find fault in anyone.”
Popular Force emerged from the right-wing movement started by the country’s former dictator Alberto Fujimori, who is now in prison for graft and human rights crimes. It is now led by Kuczynski’s defeated electoral rival Keiko Fujimori
Policy changes aren't expected when Vizcarra takes the place of Kuczynski, as the latter's extractivist policies will likely be carried forward by the former governor of a copper-rich Andean region and current ambassador to Canada.
An embittered Kuczynski described Popular Force’s efforts to unseat him as an authoritarian attack on institutions, and criticized the party for not giving him more time to defend himself.
“We look like a banana republic. Without a proper procedure, Congress is just usurping the presidency,” Housing Minister Carlos Bruce told journalists on Monday.
New elections, which would be the worst-case scenario for investors, would only be called if both Vizcarra and Second Vice President Mercedes Araoz leave office before 2021, a scenario both have ruled out.