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Peru’s president faces fresh scandal before impeachment

(Web Desk) – Peru’s president faced growing calls to resign on Wednesday after secret video recordings ensnared him in vote-buying allegations on the eve of an impeachment vote, deepening a political crisis in one of Latin America’s most stable economies.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who spent most of the morning in an emergency Cabinet meeting, was due to deliver a message to the nation later on Wednesday.

As of Tuesday night he was not planning to resign and still had hopes of surviving a vote in the opposition-ruled Congress on Thursday that would force him immediately from office, according to a government source who asked not to be named.

But it was unclear where the center-right president, who has been in office for 20 months, would garner support. Even ruling party lawmakers, including those who until a day before had been Kuczynski’s staunchest defenders, said they would vote to oust him if he does not step down.

Peruvian police put officers across the nation of about 30 million people on maximum alert, according to an Interior Ministry document seen by Reuters.

Peru’s sol currency opened weaker on Wednesday but quickly recovered its losses amid expectations that the political uncertainty that has loomed over Peru since December might soon be over. The stock index was also up.

A 79-year-old former Wall Street banker, Kuczynski was elected in 2016 on promises to modernize Peru while cleaning up government corruption. But he has grown increasingly isolated, especially after the rightwing opposition revealed at the end of 2017 that his consulting firm had received payments from Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company at the center of Latin America’s biggest graft scandal.

Kuczynski has apologized for not disclosing his ties to Odebrecht but denies there was anything improper or illegal about them.

Kuczynski narrowly survived an impeachment bid in December with the help of former autocrat Alberto Fujimori. Fujimori, who had been imprisoned for graft and human rights violations, was granted a presidential pardon three days after the failed impeachment vote as Kuczynski forged an alliance with a legislative faction led by Fujimori’s son Kenji.

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