Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra is due on Friday to face an impeachment hearing in parliament after the Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected his request to suspend it.
The court did, however, admit a request from the president to investigate whether Congress had exceeded its powers in launching the impeachment proceedings.
Parliament last week voted to start impeachment proceedings against the 57-year-old on the grounds of “moral incompetence,” following allegations that he tried to obstruct an investigation into government contracts given to a singer.
The move threw the Andean country into political turmoil at a time when it grapples with the world’s fifth-largest coronavirus outbreak and its worst economic recession in decades.
However, it looked unlikely a sufficient number of lawmakers would vote in favour of impeaching the president, though nearly all parties want him to give explanations to Congress, daily El Comercio reported.
Vizcarra can attend the session personally or send his lawyer.
Parliament earlier heard audio recordings which allegedly show that Vizcarra told his aides to downplay his meetings with the singer Richard Cisneros, known as Richard Swing, whose contracts for motivational talks are under investigation.
Cisneros, who is seen as being close to Vizcarra’s predecessor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, insists the contracts – worth 50,000 dollars – were legal.
Kuczynski resigned in 2018 following corruption allegations, leading to his deputy, Vizcarra, assuming the presidency. Vizcarra has announced he will not be candidate in elections scheduled for April.
The president denies wrongdoing and dismissed the impeachment proceedings as a plot to destabilize the government.
Vizcarra, who does not belong to any political party, already clashed with Congress over his anti-graft offensive last year.
His fight against corruption boosted his popularity ratings, but he then lost supporters during the coronavirus pandemic, when initial tough restrictions did not prevent the number of infections from soaring in Peru.
The government has confirmed more than 740,000 novel coronavirus infections and over 31,000 deaths.
The gross domestic product of the copper-producing country meanwhile shrank by 30 per cent in the second quarter.
The government, which is trying to reactivate the economy while fighting the pandemic, lifted a nationwide Sunday curfew earlier this week.