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Peru PM resigns over influence-peddling claims

Peru PM resigns over influence-peddling claims
Image: Peru Flag

Peru’s powerful Prime Minister Alberto Otarola resigned Tuesday amid allegations of influence-peddling to help a young woman he is said to have addressed lovingly in recordings released by news media.

Otarola told reporters in Lima that “in conversation with the president of the republic I have announced my decision to present my resignation.”

Otarola is a seasoned politician and lawyer who acted as chief of staff to President Dina Boluarte, who ordered him home from an official trip to Canada after the scandal erupted last weekend.

Otarola, 57, is married and has five children.

Over the weekend, the television program Panorama released what it said were recordings of Otarola in conversation with a woman named Yazire Pinedo, 25, who landed two contracts this year worth a total of $14,000 to do archive and administrative work for the government.

In one of the recordings a man alleged to be the prime minister says to her: “tell me, then, my love, so we can talk. You know these things are annoying, they are a pain, but you also know that I love you,” apparently referring to the red tape involved in bidding for a government gig.

Otarola has denied any violation of Peruvian labor laws or other wrongdoing.

“I understand the gravity of the political circumstances but I repeat that I did not do anything illegal,” he said Monday on X, formerly Twitter.

The president’s office had said in a statement earlier Tuesday that it would hear Otarola out before deciding what to do.

Pinedo said Tuesday the leaked conversations with Otarola were from 2021, before he was a cabinet minister.

But she acknowledged having had a brief “perhaps sentimental relationship” with him.

Opposition parties on both the right and left had demanded Otarola resign.

Prosecutors said they will probe him for possible conflict of interest and “illegal sponsorship.”

Boluarte, 61, came to power in 2022 after then leftist president Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, leading to his quick ouster and arrest.

Violent protests followed in several cities to demand Boluarte step down and for fresh elections to be held.

The ensuing crackdown by security forces left almost 50 people dead, according to an estimate by Human Rights Watch, which accused the authorities of extrajudicial and arbitrary killings.

Multiple legal proceedings were launched after the crackdown to investigate if Boluarte bears any responsibility for the deaths.

Boluarte is Peru’s sixth president since March 2018 and the first woman to hold the post.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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