Peru’s Congress votes against impeachment trial for president

Handout picture released by the National Prosecutor's office showing Peru's President Dina Boluarte (center) arriving for an interview with the nation's prosecutor Patricia Benavides (out of frame), in Lima on March 7, 2023. Boluarte was questioned by the prosecutor's office for the repression of the protests that followed the dismissal of her predecessor, the imprisoned former president Pedro Castillo, and which left dozens dead in three months. (PHOTO / PERU'S PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE / AFP)

LIMA – Peru's congress rejected a motion on Tuesday from leftist lawmakers to launch impeachment hearings against President Dina Boluarte on charges tied to the deaths of protesters, the latest chapter in the country's political volatility.

The final tally from Tuesday's vote saw 37 mostly leftist lawmakers vote in support of a motion to remove caretaker leader Boluarte for "moral incapacity," falling short of the 52 votes needed to advance the trial to potentially remove her in the 130-seat legislature.

Peru has been mired in intense political infighting for years, with several recent ex-presidents ousted, arrested or jailed

Peru has been mired in intense political infighting for years, with several recent ex-presidents ousted, arrested or jailed.

In December, leftist President Pedro Castillo was ousted in an impeachment trial and jailed, sparking violent protests by his supporters. Over 50 people died in the demonstrations. Opposition parties have blamed those deaths on Boluarte, who was Castillo's vice president and replaced him in office.

Boluarte has backed investigations into the deaths and has denied responsibility.

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"There are reasons to remove Boluarte. She has installed a government of repression and death," said Jaime Quito, a legislator for the leftist Peru Libre party who voted to approve the impeachment trial.

Peru's attorney general's office is investigating Boluarte for the alleged crimes of "genocide, qualified homicide and serious injuries" relating to the protest deaths.

"Proposing impeachment at this time is not prudent," said lawmaker Patricia Juarez, from the right-wing Popular Force party, the largest bloc in Congress, who voted against the motion.

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Boluarte, Peru's sixth president since 2016, is also under investigation by the attorney general's office for alleged money laundering and campaign finance crimes during the 2021 presidential campaign that brought Castillo to power. She denies the accusations.

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