© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Peruvian President Pedro Castillo attends a news conference with international media in Lima, Peru October 11, 2022. REUTERS/Angela Ponce/File Photo
Written by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabon
LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian opposition lawmakers said on Friday that President Pedro Castillo is trying to dissolve the legislature after he named a new prime minister after suggesting that Congress had fired his former boss even though there was no vote on the issue.
Castillo appointed Betsy Chavez as the new Prime Minister, a close ally and deputy who had previously served as Minister of Culture.
Peru has been mired in a long-running clash between the independent nation’s powers, which deepened Thursday after Castillo’s decision to reshuffle his cabinet after Congress rejected his request for a vote of confidence, citing failure to meet the legal requirements for it to take place.
“There is an executive coup under way to shut down Congress,” Conservative Representative Carlos Anderson told Reuters.
The motion for a vote of confidence was intended to put pressure on Congress with dire consequences including the dismissal of the Cabinet and the dissolution of Parliament.
Castillo said the rejection of the request is similar to Congress conducting a vote of no confidence in the prime minister and accepting the prime minister’s resignation on Thursday.
Castillo had said earlier that the Legislative Council and the Attorney General had attempted coups against him through impeachment attempts and criminal investigations, respectively.
According to the constitution, if Congress passes a vote of no confidence, the entire cabinet must resign. If Congress then passes a second vote of no confidence, the president has the right to dissolve Parliament and call legislative elections.
“This is what the president is publicly seeking,” lawmaker Roberto Schiabra of the conservative Alliance for Progress party told Reuters.
Outgoing Prime Minister Anibal Torres denied that the motion for a vote of confidence was intended to shut down Congress.
Castillo has survived two impeachment attempts and opposition right-wing lawmakers are scrambling for support to launch a new impeachment trial against him, though they acknowledge they do not have enough votes.
In 2019, centrist President Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress after two votes of no confidence in a sharp row with the opposition. The following year, Vizcarra was ousted by the new Congress amid allegations of corruption.