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Peru's president faces impeachment trial

March 15, 2018

Peru's lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to launch impeachment proceedings against President Pedro Kuczynski. The president is under fire for allegedly taking bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Peru President Pablo Kuczynski
Image: Reuters/C. Platiau

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski once again faces being ousted from office, after lawmakers voted by a wide margin on Thursday to begin impeachment proceedings against him.

Kuczynski is again under fire for his ties to Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, the firm at the center of a corruption scandal that has engulfed Brazil's political elite.

Read more: Odebrecht bribed across Latin America

Congress is slated to debate and vote on Kuczynski's future next week.

It is the second time Peru's president faces an impeachment motion in just four months.

In December, the motion was brought forward by the opposition-controlled Congress, after an investigation revealed Odebrecht had made $782,000 (€635,000) in payments to Kuczynski's private consulting firm at a time when he was serving as Peru's economy minister.

Kuczynski, a former Wall Street investor, insisted that the money was a payment for his legitimate consulting fees and has denied any wrongdoing. However, Odebrecht, under investigation in Brazil, has admitted to spending billions in government bribes across Latin America to secure public works contracts.

Kuczynski political quid-pro-quo

Kuczynski narrowly survived the impeachment vote after a small faction of opposition lawmakers abstained, including the son of then-jailed former President Alberto Fujimori. Just days later, Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori from a 25-year jail sentence for human rights abuses committed during his decade-long rule.

Fujimori's pardon was widely seen as a quid-pro-quo arrangement with Kuczynski and sparked several street protests.

Read more: Pardoning of Peru's Alberto Fujimori hurts voter trust

 It remains unclear whether he can pull off a similar deal this time, however.

The motion requires a two-thirds majority inside the 130-seat Congress to pass.

The threat of the president's impeachment has triggered a deal of uncertainty in Peru. Next month, the country is set to host the Summit of the Americas, bringing together leaders from the Western Hemisphere, including US President Donald Trump.

The Odebrecht standstill

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dm/kms (AP, epd, AFP)