After a four-hour debate, the Peruvian congress voted on the night of Monday, November 9, to impeach Martín Vizcarra and remove him from the post of president of the country. The impeachment motion received 105 votes in favor with 19 against and four abstentions Following the decision, thousands have taken to the streets to protest the hasty decision which many see as an attack on democracy and a catalyst for a constitutional and institutional crisis. Following Monday’s vote, Manuel Merino, the president of Peruvian congress, will take office on November 10 at 10am.
Vizcarra addressed the people of Peru an hour after the decision was announced, outside the Government Palace and announced that he would not take legal actions to appeal the decision, and would go back to his home “with his head held high.” He clarified that his decision to not pursue legal action was so that “in no way people believe that my spirit of service to the people has only been a desire to exercise power.”
The debate and vote was brought to congress following a denouncement against Vizcarra for allegedly having received illicit payments when he was governor of the Moquegua department of Peru from 2011-2014 with specific reference to some public works projects and the construction of a regional hospital. The denouncement, which surfaced in mid-October, was quickly denied by Vizcarra but the Attorney General of Peru announced on October 19 that they would investigate him.
The members of congress who began Monday’s vote called for his impeachment on the grounds that due to the alleged actions of corruption, still unproven, he is “morally incapacitated” to serve as president.
Vizcarra took office as president in March 2018 following the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuzcinsky. Kuzcinsky had been accused of using bribery to block an impeachment vote related to accusations of corruption in the Odebrecht case. Vizarra was Kuzinsky’s vice-president.
Left-wing congresswoman Verónika Mendoza said that if Manuel Merino takes office, his mandate will be illegitimate. “If Mr. Merino decided to assume the mandate this be an absolutely illegitimate government, and it will depend on citizens to be watchful, organized and mobilized to guarantee, first the health and life of the people goes before everything else in the context of a pandemic that still has not ended.”