Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski faces an escalating crisis over his decision to pardon ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori. Two cabinet ministers and several lawmakers have resigned their posts.
Culture Minister Salvador Der Solar announced his decision to step down on Wednesday, as Peru prepares for a major protest against the pardon of former President Alberto Fujimori.
"I thank the president of the Republic for giving me the opportunity to serve our country," Der Solar said on Twitter, without referring to the pardon.
His resignation comes amid an escalating political crisis triggered by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who pardoned Fujimori on Sunday.
Exchanging pardon for votes in parliament?
The dual Japanese-Peruvian national Fujimori ruled Peru with an iron fist from 1990 to 2000. After leaving power, he spent time in Japan and then traveled to Chile, where he was arrested in 2005. After being extradited to Peru in 2007, he was sentenced to six years in prison for abuse of power. In 2009, he received an additional 25-year-sentence for abuses and killings committed under his rule.
On Christmas Eve, however, Kuczynski announced he would pardon the now 79-year-old ex-strongman on humanitarian grounds, citing his frail medical state.
Many observers suspect foul play. Only days before the pardon, Kuczynski narrowly survived a graft-related impeachment vote. Fujimori's youngest son, an opposition lawmaker, unexpectedly backed Kuczynski.
The break in the opposition allowed the president to remain in his post, leading many to believe that support was given in exchange for the ex-president's pardon.
Lawmakers, ministers resign in protest
During a press conference Wednesday, Prime Minister Mercedes Araoz denied accusations that the pardon was politically motivated.
"This decision was not made overnight," she told reporters. "The president has been following and studying Fujimori's health for months."
Despite official denials, Fujimori's pardon prompted outrage among part of the electorate and resignations among government officials.
Interior Minister Carlos Basombrio announced his resignation on Friday, even before the pardon was officially announced.
Three ruling party lawmakers have also stepped down, alongside a presidential advisor, and the head of the Justice Ministry's office of human rights.
Meanwhile, representatives of some of the victims of Fujimori regime urged the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to reverse the pardon for the former president.
dj/rt (dpa, AP)