Peru's president denies graft ahead of new impeachment vote

Lima (AFP) –


Peru's President Martin Vizcarra rounded on his critics in Congress on Monday, vehemently denying that he accepted bribes as lawmakers prepared to vote for a second time to possibly impeach him.

"I emphatically and categorically reject these accusations," Vizcarra told lawmakers ahead of the vote over charges that he accepted bribes in 2014 when he was a regional governor.

Several businessmen claim Vizcarra received kickbacks in exchange for public works contracts while he was governor of the southern department of Moquegua.

Vizcarra told lawmakers on Monday that the two contracts in question were assigned by a UN agency and not by his administration in Moquegua.

The allegations were based on press reports, he said, and not on any decision taken by the public prosecutor's office or by the court system.

The 57-year-old president has won public backing for campaigning against corruption in Peruvian politics since assuming power in 2018, though he has been at loggerheads with opponents in Congress, where he lacks a solid majority.

He survived a previous impeachment vote in September.

On that occasion, the vote centered on allegations that he directed aides to lie to investigators in a separate case.

His opponents in Congress failed to garner enough votes to convict him of "moral incapacity."