Peru lawmakers who sought to remove President Pedro Castillo had noted that he is the subject of three preliminary investigations into possible corruption, which under Peruvian law cannot proceed until he is out of office.
Pedro Castillo, Peru’s embattled president, has avoided joining the South American nation’s list of impeached leaders as opposition lawmakers failed to get enough votes to remove him from office eight months into his term.
Castillo, a political neophyte who shook the country when he defeated the political elite to become president, survived his second impeachment attempt on Monday night.
He characterised the accusations against him as speculation and argued that none could be substantiated.
“We only found comments without any corroboration, speculation, imaginary links,” Castillo said of the accusations while reading a speech before lawmakers hours before the vote.
The votes of at least 87 of the 130 lawmakers were needed to remove the president.
55 voted in favour, 54 against and 19 abstained.
The lawmakers seeking to remove Castillo had noted he is the subject of three preliminary investigations into possible corruption, which under Peruvian law cannot proceed until he is out of office.
There is also a separate accusation from a would-be collaborator who alleged he is part of a criminal group that receives money in exchange for public works.
"I am subject to democratic due process... (and) I will always squarely face the nation," Castillo said at the opening of his hearing on Monday.
It is already the second time in his eight months as Peru's leader that Castillo has faced an impeachment process in a country with a recent history of ousting its presidents.
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The opposition accuses the former rural school teacher of moral incapacity and tolerating alleged corruption in his inner circle.
He has also come under fire for his repeated ministerial crises that have seen him forced into naming four cabinets already.
The impeachment proceeding "does not contain a single element that validly supports" the accusation of moral incapacity, said Castillo.
If he is removed, Castillo's Vice President Dina Boluarte would assume the mantle.
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Impeachment proceedings in Peru
It is the sixth time since 2017 that Congress has opened impeachment proceedings against a sitting president.
Impeachment proceedings are relatively common in Peru because its constitution allows for one to be brought against a president based on the subjective issue of political rather than legal wrongdoing.
And given the Peruvian president rarely has a majority in Congress, a disgruntled opposition is often in a position of strength regarding the future of the top elected official in the land.
It has created so much political instability that Peru even had three separate presidents within the space of one week in November 2020.
Castillo has received support from fellow leftist governments in Latin America while the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights criticised the charge of moral incapacity saying that there was "no objective definition" of it.
Castillo's rating is at 66 percent, although that is not as bad as the 70 percent rejection rating of Congress, according to pollsters Ipsos.
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