World

Peru finance minister vows to resign if Congress disapproves of him

Published: 2:55 AM, June 20, 2017
Updated: 5:10 AM, June 20, 2017

LIMA - Peru's finance minister vowed on Monday to resign if the opposition-controlled Congress did not renew its confidence in him in a vote that he formally requested, paving a path to a conciliatory departure of one of the president's closest cabinet members.

Opposition lawmakers from across the political spectrum have called for Alfredo Thorne to step down since he appeared, in a leaked audio recording, to ask the comptroller to approve an airport contract in exchange for a bigger budget.

Thorne has denied that he was pressuring the comptroller and said on Sunday that he would not resign as lawmakers threatened to censure him.

But on Monday he formally asked the president of Congress to schedule a vote of confidence on him after he answered lawmakers' questions on Friday about the controversy.

"If Congress renews its confidence in me we will continue to work together to move the country forward as we have been doing. Otherwise I'll immediately step aside," Thorne said in a video released by his office.

Opposition lawmakers could reject his request to hold a vote of confidence and force him from office with a censure vote instead, but they would risk escalating tensions with centrist President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who could demand a vote that would bring him closer to being able to call for a new congressional election.

Kuczynski said Friday that he had a plan in place in case Thorne were forced to leave, and that he had full confidence in Thorne.

A former JPMorgan Chase & Co executive, Thorne was one of Kuczynski's top campaign advisors when he defied expectations and narrowly beat rival Keiko Fujimori in last year's presidential election.

Fujimori's party has a majority in Peru's single-chamber Congress while Kuczynski's party holds just 17 of 130 seats. REUTERS