Peru govt petitions top court to block impeachment vote

Lima (AFP) –


Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra's government on Monday sought a Constitutional Court injunction to block an impeachment vote due later this week.

"We have proceeded to present a lawsuit by the executive against the Congress," on the grounds the legislature had exceeded its power in seeking to remove Vizcarra, Justice Ministry lawyer Luis Alberto Huerta told reporters in Lima.

Congress voted late Friday to open impeachment proceedings against Vizcarra for "moral incapacity" over accusations he incited aides to lie to anti-graft investigators.

Eloy Espinosa Saldana, one of seven judges on the Constitutional Court, told Peru's America TV the court has "the power to block the impeachment process if we consider that there are elements or indications, of a violation of competences" of the Congress.

Vizcarra, in power since 2018, came under fire after leaked audio recordings in which he is heard telling aides to hide details of his office's controversial hiring of a popular singer as a paid cultural advisor.

The 57-year-old president has won popular support for an anti-corruption crusade that has put him at loggerheads with opponents in Congress, including over a reform banning convicted criminals from standing for election.

In the event of impeachment, legislative speaker Manuel Merino will act as interim leader until the current presidential term ends in July 2021.