Peru's president survives bribery impeachment

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski survives congressional vote on whether or not he received bribes from Brazilian construction firm.

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    Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has survived an impeachment vote in Congress over corruption allegations.

    The motion required 87 votes to pass; however, at the end of a 10-hour debate, only 79 members voted in favour.

    Eventually, 19 voted against, and there were 21 abstentions. A further 10 legislators failed to appear.

    Kuczynski is accused of receiving illegal payments from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht while he was serving as Peru's finance minister.

    The company has been at the centre of a massive bribery scandal that has caused political upheaval across Latin America.

    Last week, a majority of legislators passed a motion to begin impeachment proceedings against Kuczynski, saying he was "morally unfit" to hold office.

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    Appearing before Congress in a 30-minute address, Kuczynski said he was fully convinced of his innocence and described the vote as an "unconstitutional desire" to remove him.

    The Odebrecht scandal has already claimed scalps from the worlds of politics and business in several Latin American countries, including Ecuador and Brazil.

    The company has admitted to paying more than $788m in bribes to win construction contracts across 12 countries.

    Kuczynski is accused of receiving $782,000 in illegal payments from Odebrecht through Westfield Captial Ltd, a company he owned, according to Peruvian national paper El Comerico.

    Kuczynski has denied the payments were illegal, saying Odebrecht had engaged his company in an advisory role and that he was not managing the company at the time.

    Corruption and a coup 

    Critics said the impeachment vote was linked to a domestic struggle for power in Peru.

    The motion was championed by Keiko Fujimori, an opposition politician who lost the 2016 presidential elections by a narrow margin.

    She is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a lengthy prison sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

    Pedro Cateriano, former prime minister, speaking to Al Jazeera before the vote called the motion a "coup in the making".

    "The Fujimori party wants to control the government like in the past years and do whatever they want, and we won't accept this because the fight against dictatorship has been hard," Isabel Santos, a Kuczynski supporter, told Al Jazeera.

    Moving forward, Kuczynski is keen to work towards political unity, according to Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez, reporting from Lima.

    "Analysts said the impeachment put at stake, not only the presidency but democracy in the country," she said.

    "Now Kuczynski says, it's time for a new phase of reconciliation to start." 

    With reporting by Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez in Lima, Peru.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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