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Prime Minister of Peru resigns after rejection of vote of confidence

Aníbal Torres resigns after challenging the opposition-controlled Congress to a vote of confidence.

Left-wing Peruvian President Pedro Castillo has accepted the resignation of his prime minister and will reshuffle his cabinet once again amid a long-running battle between the executive and legislative branches.

Former Prime Minister Aníbal Torres, a staunch Castillo ally, had challenged the opposition-controlled Congress to a confidence vote last week. But Congress refused to hold such a vote on Thursday, saying the conditions for it had not been met.

“Having accepted the resignation of the prime minister, whom I thank for his work on behalf of the country, I will renew the cabinet,” Castillo said in a national television broadcast.

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The confidence vote challenge was meant to put pressure on Congress amid tense relations between the two branches of government.

Opposition legislators twice indicted Castillo but failed to remove him, although they did manage to censure and fire several cabinet members.

“I call on Congress to respect the rule of law, the rights of the people, democracy and the balance of State powers,” Castillo said.

His presidency has been marked by a rotation in high government positions. Castillo is now set to name a fifth prime minister, his top adviser and spokesperson, since he took office in July last year.

Confidence votes are controversial in Peru as they can have significant consequences. Had Congress cast a vote of no confidence, Torres and the entire cabinet would have been forced to resign.

But a new cabinet could ask for a second vote of confidence that, if also denied, would allow the executive to shut down Congress and call new legislative elections.

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Last week, Torres said that he would interpret the lack of a vote as the equivalent of a vote of no confidence.

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Castillo stopped short of saying that Congress had cast a vote of no confidence, though at least one close ally, former Commerce Minister Roberto Sánchez, said the legislature’s decision meant confidence had been withheld.

In 2019, then-Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra closed Congress and called new elections after two votes of no confidence.

Congress then passed a law limiting situations that warrant votes of confidence, which is now being tested for the first time.

Tension between different branches of Peru’s government is common, and Peruvians have lived under five different presidents since 2016.

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