Graft-tainted Peruvian president survives impeachment vote

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has narrowly survived an impeachment vote in Parliament over a graft allegation linking him with a Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

The motion against Kuczynski failed by eight votes. It received 79 votes in favour, 19 against and 21 abstentions. At least 87 votes were required to approve an impeachment.

“The demand for vacancy on grounds of permanent moral incapacity has not been approved,” the speaker of the opposition-dominated chamber, Luis Galarreta, said.

After the vote, a triumphant Kuczynski tweeted: “Peruvians. Tomorrow begins a new chapter in our history: reconciliation and reconstruction of our country. One single force, one single Peru.”

Speaking before the vote, he defended himself by calling the impeachment motion a “coup” and an “attack” on democracy.

Analysts were predicting the exit Kuczynski saying the opposition parties had a case against him. Ninety-three lawmakers had voted for the impeachment motion last week.

The opposition accuses Kuczynski of lying to cover up $5 million in payments received from the Brazilian firm. Both the president Odebrecht insist they amount was the legitimate consulting fees.

Peruvians want tainted leaders to be brought to book. They want former president Alejandro Celestino Toledo to be extradited from the US to face trial for receiving $20 million in kickbacks from Odebrecht during his tenure.

Another former Peruvian president, Ollanta Humala, is in jail on suspicion of having illicitly received millions from Odebrecht in campaign funds.

Last week, Ecuador’s vice president, Jorge Glas, was sentenced to six years in prison for taking Odebrecht kickbacks.

Odebrecht had previously admitted to paying millions of dollars in bribes to officials in several Latin American countries to secure lucrative and inflated public works contracts.