Peru's Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has pulled off a surprise victory against the opposition's bid to oust him from power for his alleged involvement in Brazil's corruption scandal. The motion to impeach fell eight votes short.
Kuczynski made a forceful defense before the Peru's congress, ahead of the vote, urging lawmakers to defend the country's democracy from what he dubbed a hastily attempted "coup" staged by the right-wing opposition Popular Force party.
"The demand for vacancy on grounds of permanent moral incapacity has not been approved," said the speaker of the opposition-dominated chamber, Luis Galarreta. The motion received 79 of the required 87 votes that would have approved impeachment, while 19 lawmakers voted against and 21 abstained.
Following the vote, a triumphant Kuczynski took to Twitter, proclaiming, "Peruvians. Tomorrow begins a new chapter in our history: reconciliation and reconstruction of our country. One single force, one single Peru."
Kuczynski's links to Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht
Lawmakers from the Popular Force party had sought to remove the president from power on the ground that he was "morally unfit" for office.
An opposition-led investigation uncovered documents revealing that Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht had made some $780,000 (€658,000) in payments to Kuczynski's private consulting form just over a decade ago. Kuczynski was working as a government minister at the time but insists the payments were for legitimate consulting fees.
In Peru, the firm has admitted paying out some $20 million in kickbacks to former President Alejandro Toledo, under whom Kuczynski served as economy minister between 2004 and 2005. Peru is seeking to extradite Toledo from the United States to face charges.
Another former Peruvian president, Ollanta Humala, is currently in prison on suspicion of having illegally received millions from Odebrecht in campaign funds.