July 31, 2019 / 10:25 PM / 3 months ago

Peru's Vizcarra proposes early elections in April 2020

FILE PHOTO: Peru's President Martin Vizcarra delivers his annual address in Congress, in Lima, Peru July 28, 2019. Peruvian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

LIMA (Reuters) - The government of Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra wants legislative and presidential elections to be held next April 19, part of his proposal to hold a vote a year earlier to end a stalemate with the current opposition-run Congress.

In a speech before Congress on Sunday, Vizcarra criticized lawmakers for not fully backing his anti-graft policies and proposed ending the legislative and presidential terms of office a year earlier, in July 2020 instead of July 2021.

To achieve that, his government asked Congress to pass legislation and call a referendum vote in November in order to bring forward elections via amendments to the constitution, according to legislation submitted to Congress on Wednesday.

The biggest opposition party, the right-leaning Popular Force, has not yet responded as a group to the proposal. But the party’s lawmakers and allies have called for Vizcarra to resign, seeking to depict him as a populist incapable of governing.

A former vice president, Vizcarra took office in March 2018 to replace former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who resigned in disgrace in one of several graft scandals that have sunk the public’s trust in democratic institutions in recent years.

Peru’s constitution bars the immediate re-election of presidents, and Vizcarra has said he is not interested in holding a consecutive presidential term.

The bill Vizcarra sent to Congress also stresses that he would be barred from re-election in 2020, an attempt to end speculation by his critics that he would plot to hold onto power somehow.

Reporting by Mitra Taj; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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