Peru’s President Castillo braces for imminent impeachment vote | Politics News

Pedro Castillo denies corruption allegations, accusing economic groups of orchestrating a ‘coup’ against his government.

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo is facing a impeachment vote in Congress, which could see the newly elected leader ousted just eight months after taking office and that would plunge the nation into a new political crisis.

Castillo faced legislators in the unicameral legislature on Monday, ahead of a vote likely to take place after midnight.

“I will always face the nation frankly…because I follow the rules of due process,” Castillo said at the opening of the hearing.

Congress voted to impeach Castillo, a former teacher from a farming family, earlier in March on corruption charges. He has denied the allegations and blamed them on economic groups seeking to “coup” against his government.

“We were democratically elected and in that respect we will not disappoint. I expect that this page will be closed today,” Castillo told the state broadcaster earlier on Monday.

The impeachment vote is taking place amid continuing internal struggles within the government that have defined the leftist leader’s first months in office.

Protesters call for Castillo to resign
Since the impeachment proceedings began, thousands of people have taken to the streets calling for Castillo’s removal [File: Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters]

Castillo sworn in July, promised to become an advocate for the poor and improve education, health care and other services, but he has struggled to find support from several political groups, including including groups represented in the National Assembly.

Amid internal political controversies as well as constant attacks from the right-wing opposition, Castillo has so far been sworn in in four cabinets. A prime minister is only on duty for three days.

Reporting from the Peruvian capital Lima, Mariana Sanchez of Al Jazeera said Castillo defended himself before Congress on Monday, saying the proposal to impeach him was baseless.

Meanwhile, a group of about 500 protesters, many in favor of Castillo’s removal, gathered outside the hearing. “Many others are saying they want people to go,” added Sanchez.

Impeaching and even criticizing presidents is not new in Peru. Every Peruvian president of the past 36 years has been implicated in corruption charges, some of which have been jailed. One person died by suicide before the police could arrest him.

In 2018, former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned before an impeachment vote; Martin Vizcarra Impeached In 2020, And Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to impeach Castillo in December.

Right now, the impeachment vote is tilted slightly in Castillo’s favor, despite the president’s approval poll ratings plummeting.

Voting earlier this month to start proceedings against him garnered 76 supporters out of 130 seats. To fire Castillo, lawmakers would need 87 votes.

There are also signs that efforts to remove Castillo may be dwindling amid suspicion from opposition lawmakers in the highly fragmented Congress.

Pedro Castillo
Every Peruvian president of the past 36 years has been implicated in corruption charges, some in prison [File: Claudia Morales/Reuters]

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

But there are also signs that Castillo is facing pressure. Earlier, on Monday, prosecutors raided the homes of former officials and his relatives who are being investigated for alleged corruption.

On Sunday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital, Lima, calling for Castillo to vote for his resignation.

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

Protesters held up signs saying “national shame” and “power based on lies is illegal”.

Maria Del Solar, another protester, said: “Every patriot must support impeachment because the country is in jeopardy, in the hands of someone who has proven not only a liar but also a corrupt one.

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