LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s president-elect Keiko Fujimori will face a second vote of impeachment on Friday after an impeachment panel said it would consider next week a bid by her opponents to remove her from office.President-elect Keiko Fujimori of Peru meets with the cabinet, following the convention of his re-election in Lima, Peru November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil
The justice panel began meeting in the morning and was set to vote on Friday evening on whether to approve Fujimori’s impeachment for allegedly crimes ranging from taking bribes to presiding over a political death squad that massacred opponents.
In a sign that the panel will feel pressure from Fujimori’s leftist allies, the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable sought to delay the vote. It was unclear whether the government would allow the delay.
Fujimori won a landslide victory over Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in a popular vote this month but her mandate is now in doubt. A scandal over the campaign financing of her allies further entrenched Fujimori’s opponents in the opposition, and a bipartisan group of senators are pressing Fujimori to resign.
If the panel approves the impeachment, then the Supreme Court could appoint an election tribunal to elect a new president, which would also kick off impeachment proceedings against Fujimori.
If the judges reject the vote in favor of Fujimori, then the Supreme Court could appeal to the Constitutional Court, which has the power to overturn impeachment moves brought by Congress, one of the widest parties in Peru’s opposition.
The events have exposed weaknesses in Kuczynski’s administration, which come at a pivotal time for Peru’s economy, which is currently teetering on the brink of collapse.
“The big problem is that they are firing Keiko, they are impeaching her, and then they need to tell us who they are going to elect as president,” Kuczynski told ministers in a televised address on Monday.
Fujimori’s election sojourn has exposed divisions between Kuczynski’s centrist and more right-wing coalition, which is also losing popularity to hard-right populism as Peruvians look for more economic stimulus.
Vice President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who is running for re-election this month, was among the lawmakers leading efforts to undermine Fujimori’s center-left government.
In a potentially decisive move, Kuczynski’s office on Monday stripped Fujimori of 10 percent of the votes she won in her election last month, a move that prompted both her and the president to threaten a legal challenge.
By the end of the day on Friday, when the meeting is scheduled to end, members of Fujimori’s new administration will have persuaded only four out of 22 commission members to vote in favor of her impeachment.
“If she wins the two votes it is a very big victory for her, it is a very big step,” said Concesionario, a campaign group of the opposition party that pressured the impeachment panel.