Peruvian lawmakers elect new legislative leader from opposition party

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LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian lawmakers on Monday elected a new head of Congress from an opposition party, after his predecessor was ousted over influence peddling allegations and amid tensions with left-wing President Pedro Castillo.

Jose Williams, a former head of Peru’s armed forces, is a recurrent critic of Castillo’s administration. He is a member of the conservative Avanza Pais party, which is headed by economist and former presidential candidate Hernando de Soto.

Williams replaces Lady Camones, whom lawmakers voted to remove after pressure from Castillo over leaked audios that showed her discussing how to use her position to benefit her party.

His election is unlikely to change the political landscape in the world’s No. 2 copper producer, which remains highly polarized amid mounting allegations of corruption against Castillo and close allies.

Lawmakers have impeached Castillo twice but failed to oust him since he took office in July of last year.

Williams has in the past voted in favor of impeaching Castillo. While a sector of the opposition is publicly organizing a third impeachment attempt, it has acknowledged it currently lacks the votes to win.

Impeachment attempts are not rare in Peru. Congress has carried out six impeachment trials since 2016, ousting former President Martin Vizcarra in 2020. Another former president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, resigned in 2018 minutes before an impeachment vote which he was set to lose.

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(Reporting by Marco Aquino in Lima; Editing by Matthew Lewis)