Peru’s politicians have voted to remove the country’s president from office.
President Martin Vizcarra is accused of taking bribes years ago and mismanaging the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move was supported by 105 of Peru’s 130 members of Congress – more than the two-thirds required.
Peru has the highest COVID-19 mortality rate per capita and some blame the president for oxygen shortages and the misuse of rapid antibody tests.
During the five-hour debate, politician Robinson Gupioc told his colleagues: “Because of his negligence and incapacity we’ve lost thousands of compatriots.”
The world’s second-biggest copper producer also faces a difficult recovery from economic recession.
Mr Vizcarra has been accused of accepting more than £480,000 in bribes for authorising two construction contracts when he was governor of Moquegua, a province in southern Peru, between 2011 and 2014.
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Prosecutors are investigating but have not charged him.
Mr Vizcarra called the corruption allegations “baseless” and “false”, but politicians said they did not believe him.
In an appearance outside the presidential residence, the 57-year-old said he would not fight the decision, saying: “Today I am leaving the government palace, today I am going home”.
Some analysts, however, said the vote was a risky power grab, especially as Mr Vizcarra is one of Peru’s most popular leaders.
Among those who supported Mr Vizcarra, George Forsyth, a mayor and early front-runner for next year’s election, said the ousting was a “coup in disguise”.
Francisco Sagastegui, representing the centrist Partido Morado, called the vote an “incorrect decision”.
“We think this is… a decision that adds much more uncertainty, creates problems, and will severely affect our citizens.”
Dozens of Mr Vizcarra’s supporters were also gathered outside after the vote, many of them shouting: “get out, coup plotters”.
Mr Vizcarra became president in 2016 and had promised that defeating corruption would be his main mission.
But he had few allies in Congress, and Peru’s laws allow politicians to dismiss a president on the vague grounds of “moral incapacity”.
Head of Congress, Manuel Merino, from the minority party Popular Action, is expected to assume the presidency on Tuesday and will remain in office until the end of July 2021.
He has promised the presidential election will go ahead as planned on 11 April.
Source : Sky News