January 18, 2012
Omar Chehade, Peru’s second vice president, resigned from his post on Monday evening in the midst of questions over his role in an influence-peddling scheme. The move, coming the night before a congressional vote on whether to suspend him from political office for five years, may have been a calculated attempt to keep his congressional seat, according to Peru21. If so, it appears to have worked. On Tuesday evening, after four hours of debate, the Permanent Comission of the Peruvian Congress rejected a motion (by only one vote) that would have removed him from Congress and temporarily banned him from political office.
The prime minister, Óscar Valdés, said that Chehade’s resignation earlier this week was a strictly personal move.
The vote last night came after opposition members like Congressman Mauricio Mulder said the move to push aside Chehade was actually an effort by the ruling parties to preserve their power in Congress. “It is a fabricated scene, so that this Tuesday the public opinion does not turn against the decision of Gana Peru and Peru Posible to protect him.”
In December, Chehade was suspended for 120 days over allegations that him, his brother Miguel Chehade, three police generals, and a businessman attempted to help another agricultural company gain control of the Andahuasi sugar plantation. This is a particular embarrassment for President Ollanta Humala who has vowed to fight corruption but yet has watched numerous cabinet officials face corruption allegations in recent months.