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Peru’s PM seeks confidence vote as Rolexgate scandal rages

By AFP - Apr 04,2024 - Last updated at Apr 04,2024

LIMA — Peru’s new Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen on Wednesday asked congress for a vote of confidence as the government reels from the nation’s umpteenth political scandal, this time over the president’s luxury Rolex collection.

Adrianzen was appointed only a month ago to form the third cabinet in 16 months after his predecessor resigned over a separate scandal, in which he allegedly granted political favors to a love interest.

Constitutionally, Adrianzen has to go before congress to receive the green light to proceed in his post.

But Wednesday’s vote of confidence falls in a turbulent week in which six ministers resigned after a police raid on President Dina Boluarte’s home and offices, making it a key litmus test of support for the fragile government.

In a speech that lasted nearly two hours, Adrianzen proposed “an administration with clean hands, a transparent government to face corruption and inefficiency”.

Then began a four-hour debate before the vote of confidence. If denied, Adrianzen will have to step down — deepening the political turmoil in Peru, which has had six presidents in eight years.

The vote comes as 61-year-old President Boluarte is being investigated for suspected illegal enrichment and failing to declare her luxury timepieces — a scandal dubbed “Rolexgate” by the media.

On the eve of the vote, Attorney General Juan Villena announced an expansion of the probe into Boluarte’s possession of a “$56,000 Cartier bracelet” and other jewelry valued at more than $500,000. Bank deposits of about $250,000 are also being investigated.

President Boluarte came to power in December 2022 after her predecessor Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve congress and rule by decree, leading to his arrest.

This was followed by violent protests demanding Boluarte step down, and that fresh elections be held.

She is also facing a constitutional complaint over a crackdown on those protests, which led to the deaths of more than 50 people.

Boluarte’s approval rating stands at around 10 per cent.

If she is indicted in the Rolex case, a trial could not take place until after her term ends in July 2026, or she is impeached, according to the constitution.

Peru’s constitution gives congress outsized power in being able to remove presidents, with impeachment requiring only 87 votes out of 130 lawmakers.

Impeachment votes can be brought on a vague “moral incapacity” provision that does not require lawmakers to show legal wrongdoing.

So it would be in “congress where it will be decided whether she remains in the presidency”, said analyst Augusto Alvarez Rodrich, a columnist with the La Republica newspaper.

Leftist lawmakers have presented three motions to impeach Boluarte -- the latest started on Monday — but none have yet advanced to debate.

But Alvarez said impeachment is unlikely, as congress would prefer to avoid the risk of early elections being called.

“The main forces in congress intend to maintain the status quo as long as possible,” said political scientist Carlos Melendez, from Chile’s Diego Portales University.

But he said it would be “a miracle” if Boluarte made it to the end of her term “because no one wants to be an ally of an unpopular president” when 2026 elections roll around.


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