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Peru’s Castillo faces an impeachment trial in Congress that could oust him

FILE PHOTO: Peru's President Pedro Castillo waves as he walks a day after lawmakers in Lima voted to launch impeachment proceedings against him
FILE PHOTO: Peru’s President Pedro Castillo waves a day after lawmakers voted to launch impeachment proceedings against him March 15, 2022 in Lima, Peru. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda/File Photo

March 28, 2022

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s President Pedro Castillo is facing an impeachment vote in Congress that could oust the centre-left leader just eight months after taking office, a result that would move the world to the top. 2 copper producing nation into a new political crisis.

Castillo, a former teacher from a rural farming family who made a name for himself after his narrow election victory last year, will face lawmakers in the unicameral legislature on Monday before a vote expected to take place after midnight.

Congress voted in early March to impeach Castillo on allegations of bribery. Castillo denies the allegations, blaming business groups seeking a “coup” against his government.

“We were democratically elected and in that respect we will not disappoint you. I hope this site closes today,” Castillo told state television on Monday.

The impeachment vote remains slightly balanced in Castillo’s favour, despite a falling approval rating in polls. The vote to initiate the process won 76 supporters out of a total of 130 seats. It would take 87 yes votes to fire the Castillo lawmaker.

Earlier in the day, amid the pressure Castillo is facing, prosecutors searched the homes of his former officers and relatives, who are being investigated on alleged corruption charges.

At the weekend, demonstrators took to the streets in the capital Lima and demanded that Castillo be voted out of office.

“People can’t take it anymore. We are fed up, people are demanding justice and all corrupt people must go,” said one protester, Claudia Iriarte.

The Andean country has had five presidents since 2016. In 2018, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned before an impeachment vote. Martín Vizcarra was charged in 2020. Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to indict Castillo in December.

However, there were signs that the motion to remove Castillo could lose momentum amid doubts from opposition lawmakers in the highly fragmented Congress, which is expected to hear Castillo’s defense at 3:00 p.m. local time (2000 GMT).

“Our belief is that impeachment of the president is the solution to our nation’s problems,” said Lourdes Flores, a lawyer and politician who supports the bid. “The ball is in Congress.”

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Leslie Adler)

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Bobby Allyn

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