LIMA – Scandal-plagued Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said on Wednesday that he decided to resign in the face of a “climate of ungovernability.”
The release of recordings of attempts by the president’s allies to buy lawmakers’ votes ahead of an impeachment hearing made it appear that he was guilty of actions in which he had no part, Kuczynski said in a video message.
“The best thing for the country is that I resign the presidency,” he said, surrounded by Cabinet ministers and other senior officials.
“There will be a constitutionally ordered transition,” Kuczynski said, referring to the rules of succession, which call for First Vice President Martin Vizcarra – currently Peru’s ambassador in Canada – to become head of state.
Kuczynski, 79, said that since taking office in July 2016, he has contended with “constant obstruction and attacks” from the main opposition Popular Force majority in Congress.
Popular Force is led by Keiko Fujimori, daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori and Kuczynski’s rival in the 2016 election.
Kuczynski’s administration was plunged into crisis this week when Popular Force presented videos that appear to show allies of the president – including Keiko’s brother, Kenji Fujimori – trying to buy the vote of lawmaker Moises Mamani ahead of Thursday’s congressional debate on impeachment.
The president stepped down hours after the secretary-general of his center-right Peruvians for Change (PPK) party urged him to resign.
“If he doesn’t (resign), I hereby announce that I’ll vote in favor of impeaching” Kuczynski over allegations he lied about more than $782,000 his financial-consulting business, Westfield Capital Ltd., received from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht between 2004 and 2007, Salvador Heresi said.
Kuczynski survived an earlier impeachment vote last December that was based on the same accusations.
Days later, on Christmas Eve, the head of state made the controversial decision to pardon Alberto Fujimori, who was serving a 25-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity during his 1990-2000 presidency.