In December, Kuczynski narrowly avoided being voted out of office after a small opposition faction, including the son of then-jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, abstained from voting. Days later, Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori from a 25-year jail sentence for human rights abuses during his decade-long rule.
But analysts say Kuczynski’s chances of survival look slimmer now. The deeply unpopular president has become increasingly isolated as onetime allies abandon him and polls show a majority of Peruvians want him out.
“He’s going to have a lot more difficulty,” said Eduardo Dargent, a political-science professor at Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.
The measure adopted Thursday asks Kuczynski to go before Congress next week. It had the support of 87 lawmakers — the same number needed to oust the president on grounds of “moral incapacity.” Fifteen lawmakers opposed, and 15 abstained.
At the heart of the president’s troubles is $782,000 in payments that Odebrecht made to Kucyznski’s private consulting firm more than a decade ago. For months, Kuczynski had denied having any political or business ties with Odebrecht, even as three of his predecessors were under probe for allegedly taking bribes from the company.
Odebrecht has admitted to paying $800 million in bribes to officials across Latin America, including $29 million to politicians in Peru, as part of a 2016 plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department.
The scandal has jolted Peru, where two former presidents stand accused of accepting money from the construction empire. Analysts say this latest chapter could hurt the nation’s economy.
In less than a month, Peru is scheduled to host Trump and other leaders for the Summit of the Americas, whose main theme is how to combat corruption in the Western Hemisphere.
After Thursday’s vote, Prime Minister Mercedes Aráoz said the attempt to oust Kuczynski “destroys Peru’s image as a country built on clear, democratic rules.”
Kuczynski has denied wrongdoing and says he won’t step down. If removed, he would be replaced by Vice President Martín Vizcarra, a former governor serving as ambassador to Canada.
“As I’ve said from the beginning, I don’t have anything to hide,” Kuczynski tweeted Thursday. “And I am willing to testify with absolute transparency.”