Peru's Parliament Tuesday declined to open an impeachment procedure against President Pedro Castillo Terrones after a group of rightwing lawmakers had sought to declare him as “permanently moral incapacitated.”
Motion 1222 was rejected by 76 votes, while 46 were in favour. There were also 4 abstentions.
This was the fifth presidential vacancy (dismissal) motion presented in the Peruvian Congress. The ones against Presidents Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018) and Martín Vizcarra (2018-2020) did result in the dismissal of the heads of state.
The initiative to vacate Castillo was six votes short of the 52 needed to open the presidential impeachment process after the corruption scandal involving chiefs of the Armed Forces with the Presidential Secretary of the Government Palace and the Defense Minister to irregularly promote military officers as per their allegiance to the ruling administration.
In favour of the motion were Fuerza Popular, Renovación Popular and Avanza País, the same parties whose members supported the unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud launched by Keiko Fujimori after losing the presidential elections to Castillo.
Lawmakers from the ruling coalition highlighted the grounds invoked for dismissal entailed the misinterpretation of the figure of permanent moral incapacity, included in the Peruvian Constitution and which refers is to be construed as the mental incapacity of the head of state, in which case the position can be declared vacant.
Analysts akin to Castillo also referred to permanent moral incapacity as a rather ambiguous figure which is not regulated specifically and allows a president to be removed without actual evidence of a crime.
Although Castillo survived this impeachment attempt only four months after taking office, he is now weakened politically by the actions of his opponents but also by his own decisions, mistakes and appointments.
Nevertheless, it was a defeat for the rightwing groups who could barely go beyond its 43 seats, finding support in only three other lawmakers, when they felt confident they would reach the 52 votes needed to move on. The group is likely to try a similar motion in the future, according to most analysts.
Castillo was elected under the Marxist Peru Libre party, but once he took office, he distanced himself from it to a point where the opposition trusted some PL lawmakers would join their vacancy motion. But all 37 PL legislators voted en masse against removing Castillo, while internal discrepancies remain to be solved.
At the same time, the opposition knows Keiko Fujimori is going to trial in the coming months for money laundering, where she faces up to 30 years in jail.