Peru's president under pressure to resign
Peruvian lawmakers on Friday filed a motion to impeach President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski for "moral incapacity" for alleged ties to Brazil's Odebrecht, considered the heart of one of Latin America's largest corruption schemes.
Luis Galarreta, who sits as president of Peru's Congress, said that Kuczynski could be removed from office within a week.
"The country right now can't afford the luxury of having a president that is so questioned," said Daniel Salaverry, spokesperson for the right-wing opposition Popular Force party.
Read more: Odebrecht bribed across Latin America
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski met with his cabinet on Thursday to discuss how to deal with opposition claims there was enough evidence to prove graft against him through association with Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.
Cabinet members were shocked to find out Wednesday that Odebrecht told Peru's Congress that it made payments amounting to $4.8 million (€4.07 million) to a company controlled by Kuczynski while he was a minister in a previous government.
While last month the 79-year-old president denied receiving money from Odebrecht or having professional links to it, he admitted earlier this week that he worked on an advisory basis for the firm.
Elected last year, Kucznski's presidential mandate should run until 2021. Speaking late on Thursday, he said he would not resign and again denied wrongdoing. Surrounded by members of his cabinet, Kuczynski said that while he owned the company concerned, he was not the manager of it when it received the payments.
Threat of impeachment
Eighty seven votes would be needed in Congress to impeach the president. Popular Force and a leftist party preparing a motion to remove Kuczynski from office together control 82 seats.
A former Wall Street banker, Kuczynski is to testify before congress on Odebrecht's activities in Peru on December 22. He has denied any improper earnings. Speaking earlier on Thursday at a military ceremony, the president said: "There are a lot of rumors ... We need to unite together against real obstacles."
Late on Thursday there were media reports that first Vice President Martin Vizcarra would arrive in Lima on Friday from Canada where he is serving as ambassador. El Comercio reported that Vizcarra had been scheduled to come to Peru for his vacation, but after Christmas, which indicated there had been a change of plans.
Former Odebrecht company president, Marcelo Odebrecht, is serving a 19-year jail sentence in Brazil. He made an agreement with authorities to co-operate in return for leniency and said $29 million had been paid in bribes to Peruvian officials during the 2001-2006 term of President Alejandro Toledo when Kuczynski was finance minister and prime minister.
Neighboring Ecuador's vice president was sentenced to six years in jail on Wednesday over Odebrecht kickbacks.
jm/se (Reuters, AP)