Peru prosecutors to question president amid impeachment threat

Left-wing President Pedro Castillo faces questions over promotions for military officers as legislators weigh impeachment.

Peru's Pedro Castillo is facing low approval ratings ahead of a vote by legislators next week on whether to start a formal impeachment process against him [File: Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters]

Peruvian prosecutors have called President Pedro Castillo in for questioning as part of an investigation into the promotion of certain military officers, adding pressure on the socialist leader as legislators weigh an impeachment process.

Prosecutors are set to question Castillo on December 14 after two ex-military heads said they were relieved of their duties after refusing to promote certain officials allegedly recommended by Castillo.

The military leaders, Jose Vizcarra Alvarez, an army general, and Jorge Luis Chaparro Pinto, a general from the air force, gave testimony before Peru’s public prosecutor late last month, local newspaper La Republica reported on Wednesday.

The new allegations come as Castillo already faces the weakest moment of his presidency, which began just four months ago.

Opposition legislators are pressing for possible impeachment, and his approval rating has hit a record low of 25 percent, according to pollster IEP.

Last week, prosecutors raided the government palace in the capital Lima, where Castillo’s office is located and found $20,000 in cash in a bathroom allegedly belonging to a senior adviser. Castillo fired the adviser and said his administration is committed to fighting corruption.

“One thing Pedro Castillo had going for him as President of Peru was identity as ‘authentic’ man of the people, including absence of personal links to corruption,” Lima-based journalist Simeon Tegel wrote on Twitter.

“Now just as approval hits 25% that image is shattered. Hard to see him dodging impeachment, however unconstitutional.”

Castillo also allegedly held meetings at his personal home without disclosing them in his public agenda, local media reported on Sunday. Castillo denied any wrongdoing, saying the meetings had been of a personal nature.

The allegations will add pressure to an impeachment motion presented by a group of legislators last week.

Congress is set to vote next week on whether to start the formal impeachment process, with only a simple majority needed to proceed.

Castillo was elected earlier this year by a razor-thin margin and holds just a minority of seats in Congress.

He beat right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, who has said her party members in Congress will support the impeachment.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters