Peru's top court says Vizcarra's closure of Congress was legal

FILE PHOTO: People demonstrate to support Peru's President Martin Vizcarra after he dissolved Congress In Lima, Peru October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

LIMA (Reuters) - In a win for Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, the country’s top court ruled on Tuesday that his dissolution of Congress amid a long-running standoff with lawmakers was legal.

With four votes in favor and three against, the court said a claim that Vizcarra exceeded his powers by dissolving Congress on Sept. 30 was unfounded and had not violated the Constitution. The decision means legislative elections will move forward on Jan. 26.

“Our government has ... always respected the Constitution,” Vizcarra said on Twitter, adding that the courts had “closed this chapter.”

Vizcarra dissolved Congress amid a protracted showdown with lawmakers over anti-corruption reforms. The move won him support among the armed forces, police and voters in the copper-rich nation.

In October, Peru’s Constitutional Tribunal unanimously voted to admit a lawsuit to determine whether Vizcarra exceeded his powers with the shutdown.

The dissolution of Congress had been rejected mostly by lawmakers from the right-wing Popular Force party of opposition leader Keiko Fujimori.

The daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori was jailed last year for alleged money laundering and receiving illegal payments from scandal-plagued Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Cassandra Garrison and Dave Sherwood; Editing by Tom Brown