LIMA, Peru — Outraged lawmakers dismissed President Alberto Fujimori in a raucous session of Congress late Tuesday night, refusing to accept his resignation and declaring him morally unfit for office.
Though a political humiliation for the once-powerful leader, the move did nothing to alter the course of presidential succession, with Congress President Valentin Paniagua, a political moderate with opposition backing, still expected to replace Fujimori.
Paniagua’s appointment was expected to ease the political turmoil set off by a corruption scandal.
After more than 12 hours of debate, lawmakers voted 62-9, with nine abstentions, to oust Fujimori on grounds of "moral incapacity," as permitted by Peru’s constitution.
Falling into disgrace since his flight last week for Japan, Fujimori said in Tokyo that he planned to stay in his ancestral homeland "for a long time."
Fujimori submitted his resignation in a letter sent Monday from Japan.
"The president acknowledges in his letter that he committed errors, but he is not a criminal!" shouted congressman Manuel Vara Ochoa, a Fujimori loyalist. "The president … tirelessly traveled to the most far-flung communities of the country, and those communities — we should acknowledge — continue to love the president."
Most of the lawmakers attacked Fujimori for his conduct. Congress did not contemplate impeachment, a more complex and time-consuming process. But Peru’s constitution allowed lawmakers to dismiss the president for moral incapacity.
Paniagua, 64, was virtually guaranteed to succeed Fujimori because both of Peru’s vice presidents had offered their resignations. Under the constitution, the head of Congress is third in line to succeed a president. He was expected to be sworn in towday.
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