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Peru lawmakers vote to remove president over allegedly taking bribes

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian lawmakers voted Monday night to remove President Martín Vizcarra from office, accusing him of taking bribes years ago and poorly handling the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It remained to be seen if Vizcarra could try to overturn the action.

The vote marked the latest chapter of political turmoil in a country with the world’s highest per-capita COVID-19 mortality rate.

The president denied any wrongdoing in a forceful speech before Congress but lawmakers said they didn’t believe him. They also lambasted his response to the virus, pointing to rising poverty, deadly oxygen shortages and the country’s misguided use of rapid antibody tests.

Vizcarra is accused by opposition legislators of taking over $630,000 in exchange for two construction projects when he was governor of a small province in southern Peru from 2011 to 2014. The claims come from construction managers themselves accused of corruption and who could get reduced jail time in exchange for the information.

Prosecutors are investigating the allegations but have not charged Vizcarra.