Partisan squabbling in Peru’s congress last night led to impeachment of three Cabinet ministers who were scheduled to report on the Las Bambas conflict.
Opposition congressmen have submitted a motion to censure interior minister Jose Luis Perez, mining and energy minister Rosa Ortiz and environment minister Manuel Pulgar after a late night of partisan posturing.
The Cabinet ministers were scheduled to report to congress about the protests against the Las Bambas copper mine project in Apurimac, in which four people were killed on Monday. Local residents are protesting changes to the mine’s original environmental impact plan.
However the presentation was delayed due to the ruling Nationalist Party’s demand to debate the authorization of a congressional committee to investigate possible corruption in Peru stemming from Brazil’s Lava Jato scandal, in which officials in the governments of Possible Peru presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo and APRA presidential candidate Alan Garcia.
The Nationalist Party’s demand came just after congress voted to approve a different committee to investigate first lady Nadine Heredia for money laundering with information obtained from four notebooks allegedly belonging to her.
Congressional leader Luis Iberico called a recess to restore order, during which Perez, Ortiz and Pulgar left congress without reporting on the Las Bambas conflict.
Opposition members of congress immediately drafted an impeachment proceeding, signed by Marisol Perez and Luis Galarreta from the right-wing Popular Christian Party (PPC) as well as the populist APRA party spokesman Mauricio Mulder.
“Having briefly suspended the plenary session due to disorder caused by the Nationalist Party and after entering the floor of congress,” reads the motion, “the Cabinet ministers suddenly and inexplicably chose to leave the congressional building, a situation which constitutes an absolute and intolerable lack of respect and consideration …”
Ortiz sent a letter to Iberico after the session saying that congress lacked the “conditions” for their presentation and that they were willing to appear before congress another day.
Nationalist Party congressmen allege that congress has been “kidnapped” by the right-wing Popular Strength party led by Keiko Fujimori and the APRA party.
Cabinet minister impeachment proceedings must be debated with four to 10 days from submission. If a simple majority votes to impeach, each Cabinet minister is forced to resign.
In March congress impeached Cabinet chief Ana Jara, which required the resignation of all the Cabinet ministers. President Ollanta Humala’s government, which ends next year, has been plagued by numerous resignations and cabinet shuffles.
CAPÍTULO VI: Procedimientos Parlamentarios (Congreso de la Republica del Peru)