Peru president tenders resignation on eve of impeachment vote, sources claim

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski ensnared in scandal over vote-buying allegations

Peru’s president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski: decision to step down comes as Popular Force lawmakers continue to release secret recordings that appeared to show his allies offering an opposition congressman lucrative public work contracts in exchange for political support. Photograph: Mariana Bazo

Peru’s president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski: decision to step down comes as Popular Force lawmakers continue to release secret recordings that appeared to show his allies offering an opposition congressman lucrative public work contracts in exchange for political support. Photograph: Mariana Bazo

 

Peru’s president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski presented his resignation to congress on Wednesday after vote-buying allegations ensnared his centre-right government in a fresh scandal on the eve of an impeachment vote, two government sources say.

Mr Kuczynski, a 79-year-old former Wall Street banker who was scheduled to meet US president Donald Trump at a regional summit in Peru next month, is planning to announce his decision to step down in a message to the nation later on Wednesday, a third government source said.

It was unclear if the opposition-controlled congress would accept his resignation or move forward with its plan to vote on immediately forcing him from office on Thursday on grounds he is “morally unfit” to govern.

“The presidency is above people. Institutions must be protected. That’s why, with much sorrow, Mr President, I ask you to step aside,” ruling party lawmaker Pedro Olaechea said on Twitter.

Rise to power

Markets that had cheered Mr Kuczynski’s rise to power rallied on news of his possible departure on Wednesday, amid expectations vice-president Martin Vizcarra would soon replace him and end months of political uncertainty in the world’s biggest copper producer.

Mr Kuczynski had resisted resigning since December, when the opposition party Popular Force – led by his defeated campaign rival Keiki Fujimori – revealed his financial connections to a company at the centre of a massive graft scandal.

Mr Kuczynski’s decision to step down came as Popular Force lawmakers continued to release secret recordings that appeared to show his allies offering an opposition congressman lucrative public work contracts in exchange for political support. Mr Kuczynski’s government denied vote-buying allegations after the first series of videos were released late on Tuesday.

His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. – Reuters