Peru in crisis as President Kuczynski's Cabinet forced to resign after losing vote of confidence

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had earlier suspended his trip to New York and to the Vatican until after the vote. PHOTO: REUTERS

LIMA (AFP) - Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's Cabinet was forced to resign on Friday (Sept 15) after losing a vote of confidence in the opposition-controlled Congress.

The single-chamber legislature is dominated by the Popular Force party, led by Ms Keiko Fujimori, daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who is currently in jail for human rights atrocities and corruption.

By law, after Congress delivers a no-confidence vote, the Cabinet must be renewed, and Mr Kuczynski's new nominees must obtain legislative approval.

However, if the candidates are rejected, Mr Kuczynski can dissolve Congress and call for new legislative elections.

Both Mr Kuczynski and the legislators were elected to serve until 2021.

The vote of confidence, requested by Prime Minister Fernando Zavala, was rejected soon after midnight on Thursday by 77-22, with 16 abstentions.

"In consequence, a total crisis has been generated in the Cabinet," said the head of Congress, Fujimori loyalist Luis Galarreta.

Mr Kuczynski had earlier suspended his trip to New York, where he was scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly, and to the Vatican, until after the vote.

During his first year as president, Mr Kuczynski has lost three Cabinet ministers in clashes with Congress.

The political crisis was triggered by a motion of censure being prepared by the "Fujimoristas" in Congress against the education minister over her handling of a lengthy teacher's strike.

Mr Kuczynski says the motion was aimed at undercutting his education reforms, a centrepiece of his government plans.

Ms Keiko Fujimori, a fierce Kuczynski critic, narrowly lost presidential elections in 2011 and 2016.

She is also under investigation over suspected links to the Odebrecht corruption scandal that has tainted politicians across Latin America.

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