LIMA – President Martin Vizcarra of Peru dissolved the opposition-controlled Congress last night, after they pushed through the appointment of new judges for the Constitutional Court. According to Vizcarra, these appointments were unlawful. The Congress claimed the dissolvement was unconstitutional and swore in vice-president Mercedes Araoz as their new president.
Peru woke up today with two presidents after a historic and hectic night in Congress. After the opposition-controlled Congress voted on the appointment of several new judges for the Constitutional Court, President Vizcarra used his executive powers to dissolve the entire Congress.
This caused outrage among the opposition, led by the nationalist right-wing Fuerza Popular of former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. Members of Congress swore they would resist if they were to leave the building and after voting on the president being “morally incapable”, they swore in vice-president Mercedes Araoz as interim president.
The appointment of the new judges for the Constitutional Court had been topic of controversy for weeks. The Constitutional Court has an important position in the country, as it operates above both the executive and legislative powers in Peru. Congress tried to push through the appointment of judges who were accused of corruption in the past or who had family ties to members of the opposition.
President Vizcarra declared this action as their second “vote of mistrust” so far against him. According to the Peruvian constitution, a president can dissolve the national Congress and call for new elections after two “votes of mistrust” against the executive power. The appointment of Araoz as interim president seems therefore symbolic. The Armed Forces have declared themselves loyal to Vizcarra.
El Jefe del @CCFFAA_PERU y los Comandantes Generales del Ejército, Marina, Fuerza Aérea y Policía Nacional del Perú reafirman en Palacio de Gobierno su pleno respaldo al orden constitucional y al presidente @MartinVizcarraC como Jefe Supremo de las FF.AA y PNP. pic.twitter.com/EvbF0XfEBf
— Presidencia Perú (@presidenciaperu) October 1, 2019
“Time to Move Peru Forward”
Addressing the people of Peru on national television, Vizcarra said: “We are writing history. It is time to break this political impasse and start moving forward with our country”. After his speech, supporters of Vizcarra marched to Congress where they clashed with police forces.
Martin Vizcarra became president of Peru last year in the aftermath of the Odebrecht scandal, after the then President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned to prevent impeachment. Kuczynski’s consulting firm had received secret payments by Odebrecht. With little political experience, Vizcarra tried to implement anti-corruption laws, who were met with a lot of resistance in Congress. It explains why nationwide the move from Vizcarra was received with open arms: Peruvians want to move forward after years of political uncertainty and corruption scandals.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today.