Peru president’s cabinet wins confidence vote amid Rolexgate scandal

Peru president’s cabinet wins confidence vote amid Rolexgate scandal
Peru president’s cabinet wins confidence vote amid Rolexgate scandal

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Peru's Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen addresses the Congress to seek a vote of confidence to allow Peru's President Dina Boluarte to remain in office despite a luxury watch scandal that is rocking the government, at the National Congress in Lima, on April 3, 2024. — AFP pic

LIMA, April 4 — Peru’s Congress yesterday granted a crucial vote of confidence to President Dina Boluarte’s new cabinet, allowing it to proceed in office amid a scandal over the leader’s luxury Rolex collection.

The vote, which lawmakers passed with 70 in favour, versus 38 against and 17 abstaining, gives the green light for Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen to move forward in his post, which he took up last month.

It came during a turbulent week in which six ministers resigned after a police raid on 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.”

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He also listed economic growth, public order and action against drug trafficking among his government’s priorities.

After the vote Adrianzen expressed “humility” and gratitude for the support, and urged lawmakers to join the government in its plans for economic revitalization and “citizen security.”

Adrianzen was appointed prime minister in March to form Peru’s third cabinet in 16 months, after his predecessor resigned over a separate scandal in which he allegedly granted political favors to a love interest.

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Peru’s constitution requires new cabinets to go before Congress for a vote of confidence within 30 days of their appointment.

If denied, Adrianzen and his cabinet would have been forced to step down — deepening the political turmoil in Peru, which has had six presidents in eight years.

The vote came 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 “US$56,000 Cartier bracelet” and other jewellery valued at more than US$500,000. Bank deposits of about US$250,000 are also being investigated.

Rolex scandal

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 La Republica newspaper.

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

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. — AFP

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