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Peru: Six ministers resign amid president's corruption probe

April 2, 2024

President Dina Boluarte is being investigated for illicit enrichment over her ownership of luxury watches. The resigning ministers include the interior minister, who launched a search into her home and office.

Peru's President Dina Boluarte, flanked by Prime Minister Alberto Otarola, addresses the media, in Lima, Peru December 29, 2022.
President Boluarte is being investigated over the origins of her ownership of at least three Rolex watchesImage: Angela Ponce/REUTERS

Peruvian President Dina Boluarte replaced on Monday six ministers who resigned abruptly, as she faces a corruption probe related to her ownership of high-end Rolex watches.

Boluarte is being investigated for illicit enrichment, as authorities suspect corruption. Police and prosecutors raided her home and office over the weekend, in search of evidence of the origin of at least three Rolex watches.

Interior Minister Victor Torres was among the six ministers who on Monday tendered their resignation.

Peru: Police raid home of President Boluarte

What do we know about the ministers' resignation?

The five other ministers who resigned held the posts of women's issues, education, rural development, production, and foreign trade. All voiced support for the president, with one even describing the raid on her home as "unnecessary" and "excessive."

Torres said his resignation was due to "family and health issues," while some speculated it was meant as punishment for the weekend raids.

"I'm leaving in peace with my hands clean," Torres told reporters. "I am leaving because I asked the lady and she accepted."

The resigning ministers make up roughly a third of the 19-person cabinet. Boluarte replaced them late on Monday, appointing former organized crime unit leader Walter Ortiz as interior minister.

The resignations came two days before new Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen aims to win a vote of support from Congress. The vote was planned months ago, amid rising fears that the opposition-controlled house would deny the prime minister its support.

Why is Boluarte being investigated?

Boluarte served as vice president, before ascending to the presidency in December 2022 after then president Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, leading to his arrest and violent protests calling on her to step down and hold fresh elections.

As president, Boluarte is estimated to make some $55,000 (approximately €51,252) a year. 

The probe against her erupted in mid-March when a TV show spotlighted Boluarte wearing a Rolex watch that is worth up to $14,000 in Peru. At least two more watches were later revealed.

The 61-year-old president, who was a modest district official before her political career, has insisted the watches are the fruit of a life of hard work. She, however, stopped short of offering any details regarding how they came into her possession.

Boluarte is due to give a formal statement to investigators on Friday. She has been instructed to present any Rolex watches in her possession when she attends that meeting.

An indictment would not usher in a trial until Boluarte's term ends, due in July 2026, or at the event of her impeachment, as per the Peruvian constitution. 

Lawmakers from various parties, including Peru Libre of which Boluarte was once a member, submitted a request to Parliament to remove her from office over "permanent moral incapacity." The move requires 87 votes from the 130-seat Parliament. 

The incident further adds to Peru's political scene, which has seen six different presidents in merely eight years.

Protesters march on Lima as Peru political crisis deepens

rmt/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)