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Peru’s presidential musical chairs

11 Apr 2021 / 13:10 H.

PARIS: Peru votes for a new president Sunday –its fifth in three years – after an unprecedented series of crises and corruption scandals that saw three different leaders in a single week.

Here is a recap of the South American’s country’s dizzying political merry-go-round.

Corruption cloud

The presidential musical chairs begins with Pedro Pablo Kuczynski – known as “PKK” – resigning in March 2018 ahead of a probable impeachment vote by the legislature.

He is the first Latin American president to resign over his connections to the corruption scandal surrounding Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which doled out millions in bribes to officials in exchange for public works contracts.

Four former Peruvian presidents, including one who committed suicide, are embroiled in the affair that has claimed numerous corporate and political scalps.

Kuczynski is placed in pre-trial detention and then under house arrest.

He is succeeded by Martin Vizcarra, his vice president.

Chaos in Congress

In September 2019, Vizcarra dissolves Congress then under control of the Popular Force party led by Keiko Fujimori - the daughter of a former disgraced president who is also facing trial in the Odebrecht scandal– after clashes with lawmakers.

He announces early legislative elections but Congress opens impeachment proceedings against him, citing “moral incapacity”.

Vaccinegate

In November 2020, Congress votes again and removes Vizcarra from office on charges that he is “morally incompetent” due to corruption.

Vizcarra insists he did not receive bribes in exchange for public works contracts while governor of Moquegua.

Vizcarra is also embroiled in a scandal dubbed “Vaccinegate”, with 500 officials, including the former president, accused of getting vaccinated ahead of their turn.

In February this year, police raid the health ministry and two university clinics as part of the investigation.

In March, a judge rejects preventative detention for Vizcarra and says he is not a flight risk. The prosecution says it will appeal the decision.

Five days in office

After Vizcarra’s impeachment in November 2020, former Congress speaker Manuel Merino assumes office as interim president, but his appointment sparks street protests by Vizcarra supporters.

In a police crackdown, two people are killed and some 100 injured.

Merino resigns a day later having spent just five days in office.

President number five

The next day, on November 16, Francisco Sagasti, a 76-year-old political novice with an academic background, is sworn in as interim president.- AFP

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