LIMA, Peru (AP) — The Latest on political turmoil in Peru (all times local):
Peru’s vice president has broken a long silence and says he’s returning home to put himself “at the service of his country.”
Martin Vizcarra has been in Canada, serving as Peru’s ambassador, while a high-stakes political drama has been playing out in Lima. He wasn’t present when President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski offered his resignation Wednesday in an attempt to stave off an impeachment vote by congress.
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Vizcarra has maintained a conspicuous silence throughout the weeks-long crisis, leading many to believe he’s been quietly preparing to take over from the embattled Kuczynski.
However, during a previous impeachment attempt in December, he said he would resign in solidarity with Kuczynski if lawmakers succeeded in removing him.
Vizcarra posted a message on Twitter Wednesday saying, “Like the majority of Peruvians, I’m outraged by the current situation.”
But he added he was returning home “to put myself at the service of the country, respecting what the constitution orders.”
The head of Peru’s congress says lawmakers have agreed to debate President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s offer of resignation on Thursday.
Luis Galarreta made the announcement following a meeting Wednesday with leaders from other parties.
He said Vice President Martin Vizcarra could be sworn in to finish Kuczynski’s five-year term as early as Friday.
Vizcarra has yet to say whether he would try to form a government or resign in solidarity with the president — a vow he made as recently as December, when lawmakers mounted an attempt to impeach Kuczynski.
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has left the governmental palace after offering his resignation to the Andean nation’s congress.
A small group of aides surrounded the former Wall Street investor and applauded as he stepped out of the building toward a tinted SUV.
Kuczynski waved briefly before entering the vehicle.
Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has offered up his resignation ahead of an impeachment vote, citing unjustified attacks by opponents that made it impossible to govern.
In a nationwide televised address, Kuczynski, with his cabinet standing behind him, said he didn’t want to become an obstacle to Peru’s development.
But the former Wall Street investor lashed out at opponents led by the daughter of former strongman Alberto Fujimori for plotting his overthrow with damaging leaks of confidential financial documents that raised doubts about his integrity during his six-decade long career in private business.
“I don’t want my country, nor my family, to continue suffering through the uncertainty of recent times,” he said.
He said the transition would be in accordance with Peru’s constitution. Congress must accept his resignation before power can transfer to Vice President Martin Vizcarra, who is currently serving as Peru’s ambassador to Canada and wasn’t present for Kuczynski’s announcement.
Lawmakers were scheduled to debate impeaching Kuczynski on Thursday.
A presidential aide said that President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has offered his resignation to Peru’s congress ahead of a scheduled vote on whether to impeach the former Wall Street investor on corruption charges.
The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the president was in the process of recording televised remarks to announce his decision.
If congress accepts the resignation, power would transfer to Vice President Martin Vizcarra, who is serving as Peru’s ambassador to Canada.
With Peru’s presidency in limbo, all eyes are on Canada.
That’s where Vice President Martin Vizcarra, who is currently serving as Peru’s ambassador to Canada, has been lying low as the political drama has entered into overdrive.
Vizcarra said that he wouldn’t accept the presidency if Kuczynski was removed during a failed impeachment attempt in December. But he’s remained silent this time around as pressure on the president to resign has gained momentum among some previously unconditional allies.
An employee at the embassy reached by phone told The Associated Press that Vizcarra had left Ottawa for another Canadian city to carry out his diplomatic duties.
The head of Peru’s police force has ordered officers to be on high alert as the nation’s presidency hangs in the balance.
The order from police chief Gen. Richard Zubiate went into effect at midnight Wednesday and seemed intended to shore up stability. A police spokeswoman, Veronica Marquez, told The Associated Press that it is aimed at making sure criminals don’t try to take advantage of political uncertainty.
The main opposition party, Popular Force, has called for demonstrations Thursday when congress is slated to vote on impeaching President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Despite the upheaval, there has been little indication that Peruvians are willing to take to the streets to defend or force out their country’s leader, which has been the case in other Latin American nations that have recently seen political chaos at the top.
Lawmakers from across Peru’s political spectrum have agreed to investigate five allies of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who appear in videos discussing state contracts as payback for blocking the leader’s impeachment.
Congressional President Luis Galarreta made the announcement Wednesday after a closed-door meeting spurred by a deepening political crisis.
He said lawmakers would also probe Prime Minister Mercedes Araoz, who has defended Kuczynski against claims that he had a hand in attempts to bribe an opposition lawmaker.
Pressure is building on Kuczynski to resign after the four secretly-shot videos came to light Tuesday.