Peru Has Been Thrown Into a Constitutional Crisis

President dissolves congress, congress votes to suspend him from office
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 1, 2019 4:41 PM CDT
Peru Has Been Thrown Into a Constitutional Crisis
People walk past a police barricade barring access to the congress building in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Peru lurched into a new period of political uncertainty after President Martin Vizcarra dissolved congress and convoked new elections he contends are needed to uproot the nation's endemic...   (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

A bitter struggle between Peru's president and congress over who will govern the South American country threatened to become a lengthy and destabilizing legal battle as each side dug in Tuesday amid the deepest constitutional crisis in nearly three decades, the AP reports. President Martín Vizcarra dissolved the opposition-controlled congress and called new elections on Monday, saying the step was needed to uproot the nation's endemic corruption. Defiant opposition lawmakers voted to suspend him from office and appointed a vice president who recently broke ranks in his place. The 35-member Organization of American States on Tuesday urged Peru's Constitutional Tribunal to weigh in on the feud as both sides accused the other of abusing power and jeopardizing the nation's stability.

The military and governors stood by Vizcarra while several private business coalitions announced they would back his one-time vice president who legislators swore into office late Monday night as the country's rightful chief of state. For now, Peruvians appeared overwhelmingly in favor of Vizcarra's decision, but the events nonetheless could threaten to fuel social unrest. Vizcarra is likely to continue governing as president while any challenge from the opposition works its way through court. He has already called for new legislative elections in early 2020. But if congress prevails, lawmakers would be entitled to stay in their posts till 2021, calling off Vizcarra's elections and likely moving to impeach him, all moves that could irritate an already angry public with little to no faith in elected leaders. (Much more here, including what the mammoth Odebrecht corruption scandal has to do with the turmoil.)

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