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Peru: two decades of political upheaval

Ahead of legislative elections on January 26, here is a recap of the political crises that have rocked Peru over the past two decades.

Fujimori impeached

In November 2000 Congress impeaches President Alberto Fujimori, elected 10 years previously and accused of corruption, on grounds of “permanent moral incapacity.” He had resigned by fax from Japan the previous day. He would be sentenced in April 2009 to 25 years in prison for corruption and human rights abuses during his time in office.

Social crisis

Opposition leader Alejandro Toledo scrapes through presidential elections in June 2001, starting a crisis-filled term. The country is paralyzed by weeks of strikes in May-June 2003, when Toledo declares a state of emergency. His cabinet quits in June 2003. In December, Toledo demands the resignation of his entire government to defuse a politically damaging sex scandal involving his prime minister, Beatriz Merino.

Garcia back

A July 2006 vote returns ex-president Alan Garcia, despite criticism over his 1985-1990 term marked by four-digit inflation, leftist insurgencies and rampant corruption. In October 2008 Garcia’s 13-member cabinet resigns to avert an opposition censure resolution over the granting of concessions to Norwegian company, Discover Petroleum.

Left in power

In June 2011 leftist ex-military man Ollanta Humala narrowly wins presidential elections over Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the jailed ex-president. He is Peru’s first leftist leader in 36 years.

The first year of Humala’s presidency is marked by dozens of social conflicts that leave several people dead and lead him to declare a state of emergency three times. In July 2012 he shakes up his cabinet for the second time since taking office.

In March 2015 Congress sacks prime minister Ana Jara over allegations that the national intelligence agency had spied on lawmakers, reporters, business leaders and everyday citizens for years.

President quits

Ex-Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski narrowly wins the June 2016 election against Keiko Fujimori, whose right-wing Popular Force party retains a large majority in Congress.

In March 2017 prosecutors order investigations into Kuczynski’s possible links to a massive scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to Peruvian officials between 2005 and 2014.

He survives a Congress impeachment vote in December 2017 after support from lawmakers led by Kenji Fujimori, brother to Keiko.

Days later, Kuczynski pardons Alberto Fujimori. Thousands protest.

A day before a second impeachment vote in Congress, Kuczynski resigns in March 2018. He is replaced by his deputy, Martin Vizcarra.

Suicide, arrests

In November 2018 Keiko Fujimori is taken into custody pending the outcome of a probe into claims she accepted illicit Odebrecht funding for her party. In April 2019 Garcia commits suicide as police are about to arrest him on allegations of taking Odebrecht bribes, which he denied. In May Humala and his wife are charged with allegedly laundering assets as part of the same scandal. Toledo is arrested in the United States in July following accusations that he also took a massive payout.

Parliament dissolved

Vizcarra dissolves congress in September after Congress blocks a raft of anti-corruption reforms, and calls elections for January.

Shortly afterwards Congress votes to suspend Vizcarra for one year on the grounds of “moral incapacity.” But thousands pour into the streets across Peru in support of Vizcarra and the armed forces and police confirm their backing of the president.

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