February 12, 2017 / 3:19 PM / 2 years ago

Peru president's approval rating slips to 38 percent amid graft probe

Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski visits the home for elderly "Hermanitas de Los Desamparados" to celebrate Christmas in Lima, Peru, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s approval rating dropped five percentage points for the second month in a row in February, as a widening graft scandal entangled his former boss, an Ipsos poll showed Sunday.

Only 38 percent of Peruvians now support Kuczynski, down from a peak of 63 percent in September shortly after he took office amid promises of modernizing Peru, according to the Ipsos survey published in the local newspaper El Comercio.

Kuczynski’s disapproval rating climbed six percentage points to 51 percent, according to the poll of 1,291 people that had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

The survey was taken between Wednesday and Friday as prosecutors accused former president Alejandro Toledo of taking $20 million in bribes to help scandal-plagued Brazilian builder Odebrecht win lucrative highway contracts. [nL1N1FV10D]

Kuczynski, who served as finance minister and prime minister during Toledo’s 2001-2006 term, has denied any involvement in the alleged schemes in Peru.

Kuczynski’s popularity has evaporated more rapidly than for Peru’s two most-recent presidents, Ollanta Humala and Alan Garcia, both of whom enjoyed approval ratings of at least 50 percent at this stage of their terms.

A majority of Peruvians believe Kuczynski, a 78-year-old former investment banker who narrowly won last year’s presidential election against a right-wing populist, lacks leadership and energy, Ipsos said.

Top priorities for Kuczynski should be prioritizing aid for people affected by recent flooding and landslides and fighting street crime, the poll said.

Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Alan Crosby

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