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Peru president confident Congress to back him in high-stakes vote

 Peru president confident Congress to back him in high-stakes vote

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru's centrist President Martin Vizcarra said on Wednesday he was confident lawmakers would renew their confidence in his Cabinet and avert a situation that could lead to the dissolution of his Cabinet and Congress.

In a late-night message to the nation on Sunday, Vizcarra called for a vote of confidence in his Cabinet over four proposed anti-graft bills that he has accused lawmakers of stalling.

Under Peru's constitution, if Congress issues a vote of no-confidence, Vizcarra must replace his Cabinet. But, because Congress has already voted out one Cabinet in this government, he would also be authorized to dissolve Congress in response.

With their jobs on the line, lawmakers passed one of the four bills on Tuesday and the president of Congress said the remaining three could be approved in early October, in time to put them to voters in a referendum in December.

I have "total confidence in receiving the vote of confidence today," Vizcarra told journalists outside the presidential palace surrounded by his Cabinet. "The four bills must be approved. That's what I asked for in a message to the nation on Sunday and I ratify that again today."

If Vizcarra succeeds, the vote could give him a victory over Popular Force, the conservative opposition party that helped topple his predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

Kuczynski resigned in a graft scandal on the eve of his near-certain impeachment in March. Vizcarra, then the vice president, took office to replace him.

Popular Force, which has a majority in Congress and is led by twice-defeated presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, said on Tuesday that it had not yet take a position on whether to renew its confidence in Vizcarra's Cabinet. Popular Force lawmakers with the party have described the move as unconstitutional and authoritarian.

Prime Minister Cesar Villanueva formally asked Congress to support Vizcarra's anti-graft push in a plenary session on Wednesday, reminding lawmakers of widespread anger at the political class following back-to-back corruption scandals in the past two years.

"It's we, the politicians, who must make decisions to solve these kind of problems," Villanueva said. "We're not betting on partial solutions."

Vizcarra's proposals include a new system for selecting judges, a return to a bicameral Congress, stricter campaign financing rules and a ban on the re-election of lawmakers. He pitched the reforms following an influence-peddling scandal involving judges, lawmakers and businessmen that triggered street protests and diminished trust in public institutions.

(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by David Gregorio)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: Sep 20, 2018 00:08:22 IST