Conflict between the Fujimori siblings reaches new pitch

8 April 2018

The rivalry between former presidential candidate and Fuerza Popular (FP) party leader Keiko Fujimori and her brother Kenji threatens to derail the Fujimori clan’s quest for power. Last week, Kenji Fujimori offered to give evidence against his sister to the public prosecutor’s enquiry into FP’s electoral finances while Keiko launched proceedings that could lead to her brother being expelled from Congress.

This sibling conflict probably began long ago, but it was clearly in evidence in the 2016 presidential election; Kenji did not even bother to go to vote for his sister in the razor-tight second round between her and now disgraced ex-president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

The rift deepened thereafter. While Keiko and her congressional group did all they could to make life difficult for the former president, Kenji provided veiled support to the regime. Last year, for instance, he appeared in public with the president’s wife providing relief in areas afflicted by the El Niño disaster.

But it was their different approaches to the freeing of their father, Alberto Fujimori, that made their differences irreconcilable. While Kenji was prepared to do anything to free Fujimori from jail, Keiko’s stance was much less clear-cut. The possible presidential pardon dominated political discussion from day one of Kuczynski’s government. And it was this that precipitated his downfall.

Kuczynski and his entourage were convinced that the only way to govern was by dividing FP into its pro-Kenji and pro-Keiko wings. It was the only way to weaken Keiko’s grip over Congress. Indeed, it was this that saved Kuczynski’s bacon when impeachment proceedings were launched for the first time last December. Kenji and his group, the so-called ‘Avengers’, prevented the necessary 87 votes being cast to impeach the president. This was perceived as treachery by Keiko and her supporters in FP. She also was critical of the way in which her father’s freedom had been achieved.

The second and this time successful impeachment came about only because one of Kenji’s group was filmed on video attempting to buy the votes required to prevent the necessary majority. Until that moment, it seemed likely that Kuczynski would once again survive. This left Kenji and some of his group exposed to legal redress and the threat of losing their parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

In retaliation Kenji has now begun to speak to the public prosecutor’s office (fiscalía) about Keiko’s party finances as she faces official investigation over the way she funded her presidential campaign in 2011. Both Marcelo Odebrecht and Jorge Barata have confirmed they gave her party financial support. Kenji was due to declare on 6 April, but has now asked for a delay.

Although it is not clear what new information he will provide, it is evident that he will use all the leverage at his disposal to preventing Keiko seeking to throw him and his group out of Congress. As the Guardian reported this week, all eyes are now on the latest chapter of this saga of sibling rivalry in which stakes appear ever rising. 

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