June 5, 2019 / 3:42 PM / 3 months ago

With confidence vote, Peru revives debate over anti-graft reforms

Peru's President Martin Vizcarra looks on prior a meeting with Colombia's President Ivan Duque at the government palace in Lima, Peru May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru’s government won a confidence vote in the country’s Congress on Wednesday, reviving debate over President Martin Vizcarra’s flagging effort to pass anti-corruption measures.

The president had asked the opposition-controlled Congress for a confidence vote as part of his effort to pressure the legislature into approving a reform package, including measures aimed at cleaning up campaign financing and curbing the immunity against prosecution enjoyed by lawmakers.

“This vote now implies the beginning of talks with the government,” independent legislator Juan Sheput told local television, referring to an expected jump start of negotiations over Vizcarra’s anti-corruption programme.

The confidence vote passed with 77 in favour, 44 against and three abstentions. Debate on the confidence motion had started on Tuesday and lasted for more than nine hours before resuming on Wednesday.

A vote of no confidence would have triggered the disbanding of the cabinet and allowed Vizcarra to call special legislative elections. The threat triggered cries of “coup” from political enemies who accused him of strong-arming lawmakers.

Vizcarra called for the confidence vote after the opposition voted down or otherwise blocked his reform agenda.

A business-friendly former vice president, Vizcarra took office a little over a year ago after his predecessor resigned in disgrace - one of several politicians entangled in a bribery probe involving Brazilian builder Odebrecht .

Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Hugh Bronstein; editing by David Gregorio and Rosalba O'Brien

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