Peru opposition-led Congress failed Thursday night to remove Peruvian President Pedro Kuczynski after interrogating him in an open session over recently-disclosed links he once denied having with Brazilian builder Odebrecht, which is at the center of the region's biggest bribe scandal.
World Bank and the IMF in Peru
The motion to impeach the president for "moral incapacity" was pushed for by the opposition Popular Force party, led by Keiko Fujimori, daughter of Peru's former right-wing dictator Alberto Fujimori. She narrowly lost the 2016 election to Kuczynski.
The motion received 79 votes in favor, 8 less than 87 of the 108 votes needed for the impeachment to pass. The president defeated the the move against him thanks to 19 votes against the motion, 21 abstentions and another 10 lawmakers who failed to show up. A motion to start the "presidential vacancy" proceedings passed with 93 votes last week.
“Peruvians. Tomorrow begins a new chapter in our history: reconciliation and reconstruction of our country. A single force, a single Peru,” the president wrote from his Twitter account after the vote.
However shortly after the failed vote, PP lawmaker Cecilia Chacon said the 10 abstentions by a faction in her party had helped defeat its bid to oust Kuczynski in the wake of a graft scandal, and that some of them had mentioned the promise on Fujimori's release. "That's what they told us," Chacon said in broadcast comments. The government had denied that a pardon would be part of a political negotiation.
The Congressional Commission investigating the Odebrecht construction giant revealed the premier had received payments from the firm when he was a state minister. The payments were made to Westfield Capital Ltd, a company owned by Kuczynski.
In his defense, Kuczynski claimed that when he became a minister he decided to "establish a wall" between his public functions and Westfield and, for that reason, he did not know about the company's contracts.
Earlier Thursday Kuczynski addressed the Congress where he insisted he is "an honest man" who "never received a bribe".
"Don't allow them to confuse you," warning legislators that "democracy is at stake" and "people don't forget nor do they forgive," he told lawmakers before they started debating his impeachment for more than four hours.