The Parliament of Peru has dismissed the president, Martín Vizcarra, on Monday. It was the second attempt by Parliament after spending almost two months of a first motion to withdraw it for “permanent moral incapacity.” The majority of congressmen voted in favor of the “presidential vacancy” to fight against corruption, because the president is investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office for the alleged receipt of bribes, in 2013 and 2014, from contractor companies of the Moquegua Regional Government when he served as governor of that region. The president has denied the accusations.

According to the Constitution, 87 votes were required to remove the head of state – two-thirds of the representation – and the initiative far exceeded that threshold by reaching 105 adhesions, 19 votes against and four abstentions. Also, several members and leaders of the political groups that promoted the removal of Vizcarra since September are being investigated for money laundering, corruption and other crimes, but this Monday other parties that do not face such accusations have joined, such as the Popular Agricultural Front of Peru. and some MPs from the leftist Frente Amplio.

On Tuesday, the head of Parliament, Manuel Merino, of Popular Action, a politician who played a crucial role in the first motion to remove him in September, will take over as transitional president, as he allowed a congressman – on whom constitutional accusations weigh – to broadcast in a plenary session of the Congress audios of conversations of the president and his environment about the irregular hiring of a friend of Vizcarra as a consultant to the Ministry of Culture.

The president’s removal proposal was presented on October 20 by 27 congressmen after the press published testimonies from collaborators of the Prosecutor’s Office about the alleged payment of bribes to Vizcarra by the construction company Obrainsa and its Italian partner Astaldi, in exchange for the award of an irrigation work called Lomas de Ilo. According to evidence provided by the prosecution, the amount was about $ 281,000.

Two prosecutors investigate the politician

Prosecutor Germán Juárez, from the Special Prosecutors Team Lava Jato, is in charge of both investigations that are part of the case called the Construction Club, in which the companies – as a cartel – distributed the public works tenders between 2002 and 2016. Some 15 construction companies are under investigation. Twenty days ago, the prosecutor Juárez asked the secretary general of the presidency to indicate the way to collect the president’s testimony this Tuesday, November 3, however – consulted by the press – Vizcarra said that he had not received the notification.

The official reiterated the request and, last Friday, the president responded that he would send a letter to the nation’s Attorney, Zoraida Ávalos, due to “doubts and contradictions” in the tax investigation. The president has denied the accusations in three television interviews. “They are totally false,” he reiterated on Friday. This Monday the president has asked Ávalos in writing to define which prosecutor is competent to investigate it, because she ordered on October 16 that a prosecutor specialized in crimes of corruption of officials undertake the investigation of the alleged illegal payments for public works in Moquegua. Therefore, two different magistrates investigate the same matter. “This situation could put at risk the proper exercise of the rights and guarantees that the Magna Carta confers on me,” says Vizcarra in his letter to the attorney general.

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