Supporters, foes of Peru’s president clash outside Congress

Lima, Dec 7 (EFE).- Supporters and opponents of President Pedro Castillo clashed here Tuesday ahead of a vote in the Peruvian Congress on whether to consider a motion to remove the leftist head of state barely four months after he took office.

Partisans of the right-wing parties trying to oust the former schoolteacher gathered in Lima’s Universitario Park and marched to the legislature, where they were met by Castillo loyalists.

Individuals from the two groups scuffled with each other and with the substantial police contingent guarding the seat of Congress.

The speaker of the unicameral legislature, Maria del Carmen Alva, said that it remained unclear whether the lawmakers seeking to remove Castillo for “permanent moral incapacity” have the 52 votes they need to bring the motion up for consideration.

During a meeting Monday night with the president, the leaders of leftist and centrist factions comprising 67 of the 130 members of Congress agreed to work against the impeachment.

This marks the fifth time in four years that legislators have cited “moral incapacity” as a reason to impeach a president, though the mechanism was created in the 19th century to address a situation in which the head of state is mentally impaired.

Fernando Tuesta, a political scientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, told Efe last year that the existence of the moral incapacity option leaves a politically weak president at the mercy of “irresponsible” legislators.

The professor commented in the wake of the Nov. 9, 2020, ouster of President Martin Vizcarra for moral incapacity based on unproven accusations of corruption during his 2011-2014 tenure as a regional governor.

Vizcarra took office in March 2018, succeeding Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who resigned to avoid impeachment amid suspicion he received some of the $30 million in bribes Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht paid to officials to obtain lucrative public works contracts. EFE


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