Fri, Jun 08, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Peruvian Congress suspends Kenji Fujimori

LONG GAME:One analyst said the drive to push the lawmaker from politics was aimed at keeping him out of the election in 2021, when he would likely face his sister, Keiko

AFP, LIMA

The Peruvian Congress late on Wednesday suspended lawmaker Kenji Fujimori over corruption allegations, but lacked a quorum to dismiss him as part of a fight with his sister for control of their father’s political dynasty.

After 11 hours of debate in a special plenary session, 61 lawmakers voted to suspend the youngest son of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori.

However, many lawmakers then walked out and Congress President Luis Galarreta suspended the session, citing a lack of quorum — 67 lawmakers — before it could vote on a motion to dismiss Kenji Fujimori altogether as sought by the party of his sister and rival, Keiko Fujimori.

“I say this to my sister: ‘Here, you have my head,’” Kenji Fujimori said after the vote. “We are victims of a parliamentary dictatorship.”

Kenji Fujimori, 38, is accused of attempting to buy votes to keep disgraced former Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski from being impeached. Kuczynski ended up resigning in March.

With Kenji Fujimori now out of congress and under investigation, the vote on Wednesday night shapes up as a win, albeit a costly one, for his sister in their battle for control of their father’s political legacy.

However, Kenji Fujimori is not disqualified from politics altogether, and he and his sister could even square off against each other in presidential voting in 2021.

“If anyone believes that my political life ends here, they are totally wrong, because this is just a beginning,” Kenji Fujimori said before the vote, shedding a few tears.

Many see Kenji Fujimori, who polled more votes than any other candidate in Peru’s last two legislative elections, as likely to run against his sister for the presidency in 2021.

The drive to ban him from politics was aimed at keeping him out of that presidential race, analyst Fernando Tuesta told reporters.

Corruption-tainted Kuczynski in December last year survived an impeachment vote in congress thanks to the abstentions of Kenji Fujimori and his supporters, who broke ranks with Keiko Fujimori’s Popular Force party.

In what was seen as a blatant quid pro quo, Alberto Fujimori was pardoned by Kuczynski just days later and released from prison, where he was serving a 25-year term for human rights abuses committed during his decade in power.

Kuczynski, 79, finally stepped down in March on the eve of a second impeachment vote.

Two congressional allies of Kenji Fujimori, Bienvenido Ramirez and Guillermo Bocangel, were accused of the same charges and were also suspended on Wednesday night.

Since leaving prison in December, ailing Alberto Fujimori has been unable to mend fences between his children.

With timing worthy of a TV soap opera, Peruvian media on Wednesday reported that the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights was to announce a verdict within hours on an appeal against his pardon.

Keiko Fujimori, 43, had opposed seeking a pardon for her father, saying that he was innocent and should be released without government mediation.

Her critics have said the real reason was that, once liberated, her father would threaten her control of the party that has come to define what Peruvians call “Fujimorism.”

“Keiko could score a double triumph, if the court sends her father back to prison while she sends her brother onto the street,” analyst Rosa Maria Palacios wrote in newspaper La Republica.

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