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25 December 2017, 12:31 | Marta Robbins
Clashes in Peru as president pardons ex-leader Fujimori
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's political troubles will likely continue despite his surprise victory over a bid in Congress to oust him this week, a key opposition leader said on Saturday, citing ongoing graft probes and opposing demands from allies. The party's leader, Keiko Fujimori, lost the 2016 election to Mr Kuczynski by a slim margin.
Applause erupted inside Congress and his supporters cheered and waved Peruvian flags outside as it became clear Kuczynski would remain president. Fujimori is a controversial figure in Peru, having been accused by many of staging a "self-coup" to transform the country into a dictatorship and being at the centre of a vast corruption network, while others claim that he ended a serious nationwide economic crisis and crushed the Shining Path guerrilla insurgency.
At the same time, ongoing probes in Congress and in the attorney general's and comptroller's offices threaten to implicate Kuczynski in new allegations of wrongdoing, he added. He now denies receiving any illegal payments but admits working on an advisory basis for the firm.
Jose Chlimper, Secretary General of Fuerza Popular talks to the press outside the office of opposition leader Keiko Fujimori during a raid investigating suspected bribes linked to Odebrecht company in Lima, Peru, December 7, 2017.
In 2007, Fujimori was sentenced to six years in jail for bribery and abuse of power. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is appealing his conviction on charges of corruption and money laundering related to the plot.
During his 30-minute testimony Thursday, Kuczynski showed the contracts in question on an overhead screen, pointing out that none contained his signature. He said that while he owned the company, he was not its manager when it received the payments. "It looks complicated", he said.
The president's detractors contended that he should have disclosed the payments before taking office and that as a high-ranking government minister when the money was paid should have done a better job to shield himself from potential conflicts of interest.
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