Impeachment vote falls short of ousting President Castillo
Peru's Congress fails to impeach leftist President Pedro Castillo, who considers that "common sense, responsibility and democracy have won."
Peru's President Pedro Castillo avoided impeachment by an opposition-dominated Congress on Monday, bringing to a close the second bid to unseat him since he rose to power eight months ago.
Following a parliamentary debate that lasted more than eight hours, 55 legislators voted in favor of Castillo's impeachment, 54 voted against, and 19 abstained.
Eighty-seven votes would have been required to impeach the leftist leader, whom the opposition accused of alleged corruption and moral incapacity.
"The motion to declare the presidency of the republic vacant has not been approved," announced opposition leader Maria del Carmen Alva, who heads Congress, after the vote.
"Common sense, responsibility, and democracy have won"
On Twitter, Castillo wrote, "I hail the fact that common sense, responsibility and democracy have won."
"I call on all (legislators) to turn the page and to work together to solve the great challenges the country faces," he added.
Saludo que haya primado la sensatez, la responsabilidad y la democracia. Reconozco a los parlamentarios que votaron en contra de la vacancia, y respeto la decisión de quienes sí lo hicieron. Llamo a todos a cerrar esta página y trabajar juntos por los grandes desafíos del país.— Pedro Castillo Terrones (@PedroCastilloTe) March 29, 2022
Though the conservative opposition dominates Congress, it did not have a large enough majority to force Castillo out on its own.
"To be honest we don't have the votes," said Norma Yarrow from the right-wing Advance Country party prior to the vote.
Second impeachment bid against Castillo
It was the second time in his eight months as Peru's leader that Castillo faced an impeachment bid.
It was also the sixth time since 2017 that Congress opened impeachment proceedings against a sitting president.
The right-wing Pedro Pablo Kuczynski survived one but resigned in 2018 before Congress opened a second debate.
Centrist Martin Vizcarra also survived an attempt to remove him before he was finally ousted in 2020.
Castillo faced a similar impeachment bid in December and has been under fire from the opposition and some of the Peruvian media in the months since then.
Four cabinet reshuffles in eight months
The opposition had accused the 52-year-old former school teacher of moral incapacity and tolerating alleged corruption in his inner circle.
He has also come under criticism for repeated ministerial crises, with four cabinet reshuffles in eight months.
Monday's session began with a speech by Castillo, who had an hour to answer the accusations he faced.
From the start, Castillo was defiant, saying the proceedings did not "contain a single element that validly supports" the accusation of moral incapacity.
Ever since his razor-tight election runoff victory against right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori, Castillo has faced accusations of alleged fraud.