Martin Vizcarra was sworn in as Peru’s new president Friday, after Congress voted to accept the resignation of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski following a corruption scandal.
Vizcarra promised on Friday that his government would fight corruption “head on” after he took the oath of office before Peru’s Congress.
“Transparency will be a pillar of our administration,” Vizcarra said, adding that “better times will come.”
Vizcarra, 55, a relatively unknown politician who had been serving both as the vice president and as the Andean country’s ambassador to Canada, flew back to Lima from Ottawa on Thursday, which coincidentally was his birthday.
Supporters welcomed him at the airport with a large cake.
Vizcarra is expected to hold the post of president until July 2021, when Kuczynski’s term was due to end. However, early elections are also a possibility.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the United States looks forward to working with Vizcarra and praised Peru for its “constitutional transfer of power.”
Pressure on Kuczynski increased this week after the emergence of secretly shot videos showing allies of Kuczynski allegedly attempting to buy the support of an opposition lawmaker to block the president’s impeachment.
To avoid impeachment, Kuczynski delivered a resignation letter to Congress Wednesday, blaming relentless attacks by his opponents for making it impossible to govern.
Congress voted 105-12 on Friday to grant Kuczynski’s request to step down, but rejected his written arguments that he was doing so as a result of his opponents’ attacks.
Efforts to oust Kuczynski have been led by Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian strongman Alberto Fujimori. Kuczynski has been accused of involvement in a bribery scandal related to his association with the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
Kuczynski has vehemently denied having any business or political ties to the company. But documents presented by Keiko Fujimori’s Popular Force party showed his consulting firm had received $782,000 in payments from Odebrecht a decade ago, some of them when he was a government minister.
In a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department in December 2016, Odebrecht admitted to spreading $800 million in bribes to officials across Latin America, including $29 million in Peru.
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