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Peru: Third impeachment bid against Castillo launched

Hand out photo released by the Peruvian Presidency press office of President Pedro Castillo, announcing in a televised statement his decision to "reshuffle" his ministerial cabinet in Lima on Feb 4, 2022. (ALDAIR MEJIA / PERUVIAN PRESIDENCY / AFP)

LIMA — Peru opposition legislators on Tuesday presented another impeachment motion against President Pedro Castillo, the third formal attempt to oust the leftist leader since he took office last year, calling him morally unfit for office.

The impeachment attempt comes amid escalating tensions between the two government branches. Castillo has said the legislature is attempting a coup d'etat against him while opposition lawmakers say he is trying to illegally shut down Congress.

Castillo, who took office in July 2021, has been besieged by scandals and has already survived two impeachment attempts in Congress

READ MORE: Thousands march in Peru, demanding resignation of President Castillo

The motion was presented with the signature of 67 lawmakers out of 130. Now Peru's Congress has to decide whether to proceed to an impeachment trial. Ultimately, lawmakers would need 87 votes to remove Castillo from office.

It was not clear when Congress, controlled by right-wing parties, would schedule a session to debate whether to accept the motion.

"Due to the allegations of corruption against Castillo, we have reached an untenable, unacceptable point of immorality," lawmaker Edward Malaga, manager of the impeachment motion against the president, said during a news conference.

Castillo, who took office in July 2021, has been besieged by scandals and has already survived two impeachment attempts in Congress. He cannot be charged while in office.

READ MORE: Peru's ruling party calls for Castillo to step down in 2023

He is accused of using the presidency to benefit himself, his family and close allies, among other allegations of corruption. Prosecutors have opened six criminal investigations against him, including one for alleged obstruction of justice in the firing of a former interior minister.

He denies any wrongdoing and has accused prosecutors of being complicit in an attempt to oust him from power.

It is unclear if lawmakers will now have enough support to prevail.

The motion comes after Congress declined the prime minister's call for a confidence vote earlier this month, which led Anibal Torres to resign last week and sparked another Cabinet reshuffle in the country.

The decision has deepened political tensions in Peru, with Castillo suggesting he might have the power to dissolve parliament and call for new legislative elections if Congress gives his new Cabinet a vote of no confidence.

Opposition lawmakers have challenged that interpretation and said Castillo is looking for an "anti-constitutional dissolution" of parliament, and have sought Peru's highest court to weigh in on which interpretation is correct.