Peruvian lawmakers ousts Congress head Lady Camones

Head of Peru’s Congress Lady Camones poses for a photograph, in Lima, Peru.

Peruvian lawmakers on Monday ousted Lady Camones, the head of Congress, just a day after the country’s prime minister publicly demanded her removal over leaked audio that showed her discussing how to use the legislature to benefit her party.

Camones had been in the role for less than two months and her ouster underscores how the administration of President Pedro Castillo is pushing back aggressively against a hostile Congress that has already twice impeached him.

Although Castillo has survived the impeachment trials, opposition lawmakers, including Camones, have said they would like to try to oust him for a third time.

Political turmoil in Peru is common, with Peruvians living under five different presidents since 2016, largely because Congress has launched six different impeachment trials in that period. But the executive’s successful push back against the legislature this time could signal the balance of power is shifting.

Camones’ ouster comes as left-wing Castillo is facing increasing legal troubles. Prosecutors have opened a record six criminal investigations against him, including one over obstruction of justice and another over allegedly leading a contracts-for-kickbacks scheme.

Three members of his Cabinet – including Prime Minister Anibal Torres – are also under investigation, while a former minister and a nephew are on the run.

Castillo has repeatedly denied any allegations of wrongdoing and on Monday denied them again, after testifying before Peru’s attorney general in a closed-door deposition.

“We are today stronger and more serene than ever,” Castillo said afterwards. “We are not going to let our guard down, Peru needs that its authorities be in the frontlines solving the big problems that this country has.”

Meanwhile, Torres has taken an active role in confronting Congress, holding a news conference for two hours on Sunday night to demand Camones’ removal.

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