Regional body to discuss Peru political crisis

Regional body to discuss Peru political crisis

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo addresses the nation on television on October 19, 2022 to say he has asked the OAS to invoke its 'democratic charter'
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo addresses the nation on television on October 19, 2022 to say he has asked the OAS to invoke its 'democratic charter'. Photo: Luis Iparraguirre / Presidencia de Perú/AFP/File
Source: AFP

The Organization of American States will hold a special meeting Thursday on the political crisis in Peru, where President Pedro Castillo faces several investigations he denounces as a "coup d'etat."

The embattled Castillo announced late Wednesday he had sought the regional body's help to foster a national dialogue in a bid to prevent "a serious alteration of the democratic order in Peru."

Addressing the nation live on TV, the president said he had asked the 35-member OAS to invoke its "democratic charter," which sets out the body's mission "to promote and consolidate representative democracy."

He is relying in particular on Article 17, which allows a member state to request assistance "for the strengthening and preservation of its democratic system" if it fears this to be at risk.

A formal request was presented to the OAS last week, and the body said in a statement that a "special meeting" on Peru would be held in Washington at 1830 GMT on Thursday.

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Castillo, a former rural school teacher, has been under nonstop fire since unexpectedly taking power from Peru's traditional political elite in elections last year.

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He has survived two impeachment attempts since taking office in July 2021 and is the target of six criminal investigations for alleged graft and plagiarizing his university thesis.

In addition to these, Peru's attorney general last week filed a constitutional complaint accusing Castillo of heading a criminal organization involving his family and allies.

The complaint -- the first of its kind against a sitting president -- must be examined by parliament, and unlike a criminal case, can lead to Castillo's suspension. Fewer votes are required than for impeachment.

Castillo, serving a five-year term that ends in 2026, cannot be criminally tried while in office.

In recent months, police have raided the presidential palace in Lima, where Castillo resides, as well as his private home in rural Peru in search of evidence to back the corruption claims.

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Politically weak, Castillo was denied permission by Peru's rightwing-dominated Congress in August to attend the inauguration of fellow leftist Gustavo Petro in Colombia, more recently also to visit the Vatican and Belgium.

On Wednesday, Castillo accused "the money sectors, the traditional politicians who have always thrived on corruption" of being behind the "coup" attempt against him.

"I am not corrupt," he insisted on Twitter.

Peru is no stranger to instability: it had three different presidents in five days in 2020, and five presidents and three legislatures since 2016.

But six open investigations into a sitting president is unprecedented.

The OAS said it would hear a presentation Thursday by Foreign Minister Cesar Landa -- the fifth in the post since Castillo took over.

Source: AFP

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