Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s approval rating has fallen to 19% since he granted a pardon to authoritarian former President Alberto Fujimori, a decision that has deeply divided the country, a poll showed on Sunday.
The latest poll marked a decline from November and December, when 26% and 22% of Peruvians approved of the business-friendly former Wall Street banker’s performance.
In late December, Kuczynski granted the 79-year-old Fujimori a pardon on medical grounds, allowing him to leave prison. Fujimori had been serving a 25-year sentence for graft and human rights crimes during his 1990-2000 right-wing populist government.
But eight in 10 respondents believe the pardon was part of political deal, and not given for humanitarian reasons, according to the poll of 1,293 respondents conducted by GfK Jan. 22-24 and published in local newspaper La Republica. The margin of error was 2.8%.
Apparently Kuczynski negotiated Fujimori’s release with the ex-leader’s son, Kenji, in exchange for political support in Congress. Kuczynski has insufficient members to pass legislation.
The poll found 50% of Peruvians supported the pardon, while 49% were opposed. That reflected deep divisions over the legacy of Fujimori. Some credit him with stabilizing the economy and defeating Maoist rebels during his 10-year rule starting in 1990, but others see him as a corrupt dictator.
Both Kuczynski’s and Kenji’s representatives have denied that the pardon was politically motivated.