PPK faces barrage of attacks

11 March 2017

It was another bruising week for the Kuczynski government.

On 9 March, Congress overwhelmingly supported a vote requiring the presence of Martín Vizcarra, the first vice-president and minister of transport and communications, to respond to a total of 82 questions, next Thursday, 16 March.

Whether or not the majority Fuerza Popular (FP) decides to pass a motion of censure is, as yet, unclear, but President Pablo Kuczynski has retreated a bit in recent days on his previously strongly-worded statement that a motion of censure would trigger a vote of confidence in the cabinet as a whole.

In December, Kuczynski was obliged to sacrifice his education minister following a motion of censure in Congress. Another forced resignation would debilitate the government still further, particularly given Vizcarra’s role as vice-president and his being one of the few cabinet members appointed for his political experience. The government’s popularity ratings continue to sink in each published opinion poll.

Further trouble came from the office of the Procuradoría (the attorney-general’s office) which argued that both Kuczynski and Vizcarra had questions to answer in the scandal surrounding the activities of Odebrecht. Government officials claim that no proper evidence has been presented to justify such claims. But these provide added ammunition to the FP campaign to denigrate the president.

Meanwhile Keiko Fujimori, on the occasion of her party’s seventh anniversary issued a stinging attack on Kuczynski who she claimed was a president “who ought to be functioning as such but who we see happily enjoying the swimming pool at the El Golf club” [El Golf is one of Lima’s most exclusive clubs]. She also slammed a cabinet “which does not travel [outside Lima] and does not get its shoes dirty in order to take on board the suffering of families” [the victims of flooding].

However, Fuerza Popular is not without its own problems. The rivalry between Keiko and her brother Kenji continues to cause internal ructions. Last week Kenji lambasted the decision of the FP leadership not to support a congressional enquiry into the sexual abuse scandal facing Sodalicio, the ultra-conservative Catholic congregation whose leaders are accused of routinely abusing boys and adolescents. See PSG article.

Kenji’s surprising intervention (he represents the most retrograde sector of Fujimorismo) received a speedy response from the party leadership in Congress that it was up to the Ombudsman’s office, not the Congress to investigate a case not involving public officials.

While there is nothing to stop Congress initiating an investigation into whatever issue it sees fit, the role of the Ombudsman’s office is precisely to investigate and reprimand abuses by public officials.

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