Peru Congress falls short in vote to impeach president

Lima: Peru’s Congress fell short by eight votes in a motion to impeach President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski over graft allegations linked to a disgraced Brazilian construction firm.

“The demand for vacancy on grounds of permanent moral incapacity has not been approved,” the speaker of the opposition-dominated chamber, Luis Galarreta, said after the motion received 79 votes in favor, 19 against and 21 abstentions.

At least 87 votes were required to approve an impeachment.

The motion was put to the lawmakers after a 14-hour session that started with a two-hour appearance by Kuczynski to defend his position.

He called the move against him a “coup” and an “attack” on democracy.

Analysts had predicted that he would be impeached, especially as 93 lawmakers had last week voted for the impeachment motion to be put to Congress.

Kuczynski, 79, was accused of lying to cover up $5 million in payments received from Brazilian company Odebrecht that both he and the company insist were for legitimate consulting fees.

The money was received between 2004 and 2013, a period in part of which Kuczynski was economy minister and head of cabinet for then-president Alejandro Toledo.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying millions of dollars in bribes to officials in several Latin American countries to secure lucrative and inflated public works contracts.

It has said it paid $20 million in kickbacks to Toledo, whom Peru wants extradited from the United States to face charges.