Peru PM denies domestic violence allegations as new crisis heats up

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Supporters of Peru's President Pedro Castillo gather as Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez faces a critical vote of no confidence from the opposition-led Congress in Lima, Peru, November 4, 2021. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda/File Photo

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LIMA, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Peru's new prime minister, Hector Valer, denied on Thursday that he had beat his daughter and late wife - the subject of two police complaints - as the country's third Cabinet in six months appeared to be on increasingly shaky ground.

"I am not an abuser, I am not someone who hits (others), I am not what the complaint at the police station says," Valer said at a news conference on his third day on the job.

The allegations put Peru's Cabinet at fresh risk of failing to earn a confidence vote from Congress, with some parties saying they would vote against him.

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Peruvian President Pedro Castillo was in Brazil on Thursday and has yet to comment on the allegations. Castillo, a member of a Marxist-Leninist party, named Valer to the job earlier this week after his former prime minister resigned over disagreements with him.

The allegations, which first surfaced in local media, include a police report from 2016 in which Valer's daughter alleges Valer slapped, punched and kicked her "in the face and other parts of the body."

Valer's wife died three months ago, he said.

Valer denied the alleged violence toward his wife and said he had merely "reprimanded" his daughter. He showed photos of the two together that he said were on his daughter's Facebook page, saying they offered proof that the two are on good terms.

"I reprimanded my daughter like any parent does inside their own home, not once but many times," Valer said. "Those reprimands I think have helped my daughter today be a surgeon doctor."

If Valer cannot earn Congress' green light, Castillo will have to name a new Cabinet. But if Congress rejects that Cabinet as well, Peru's constitution allows the president to shut down Congress and call for new legislative elections.

Valer said his Cabinet's failure in Congress could perhaps strengthen Castillo's position, because it would put the president closer to having a "gold bullet, which is the dissolution of Congress."

Peru's prime minister is a powerful figure. The PM is the chief adviser to the president and also presides and helps appoint the rest of the Cabinet.

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Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun in Lima Editing by Matthew Lewis

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