Congress versus Saavedra

4 December 2016

Following weeks of speculation, the official questioning (interpelación) of Education Minister Jaime Savedra has been approved by Congress and is due to take place on 7 December. He faces legislators over accusations about alleged mismanagement of computer procurement and delays in preparations for the Pan-American Games.

There is no question that the Fujimoristas in Congress, allied with members from APRA, have sufficient voting power to succeed in the interpelación. But the vote goes against the express wishes of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who has forcefully supported Saavedra against the attacks he faces. The Frente Amplio is to abstain in the vote, divided between those who support the motion and others who reject it.

Saavedra remains popular with public opinion and received enthusiastic support from the business community which met last week at the annual meeting of executives (CADE) in Paracas. He is also being backed by on-line petitions, while the former left-wing presidential candidate Verónika Mendoza has said she opposes any possible censure.

If censured, Saavedra would have to resign and Kuczynski would have to accept it.

The only way out would be for the government to force a full ministerial crisis with Kuczynski and Prime Minister Fernando Zavala submitting the whole cabinet to a vote of confidence in Congress. If legislators then voted to deny a vote of confidence, a new cabinet would have to be assembled. Were this to happen twice, Kuczynski would be in a position to call for the closure of Congress and for new legislative elections to take place.

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