Peru president faces standoff with congress over referendum

September 17, 2018
In this photo provided by the Peruvian government, Peru's President Martin Vizcarra speaks during a national message at the government palace in Lima, Peru, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. Vizcarra called to the Congress approve his proposals on Wednesday seeking to be submitted to a referendum in December to reform the political and judicial system, which if denied by Parliament could give way to the president closing the Congress. (Andres Valle/Andina News Agency via AP)

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru’s president is facing a standoff with lawmakers over his call for a referendum on anti-corruption measures.

In a televised speech Sunday night, President Martin Vizcarra ordered the opposition-dominated congress to hold a special session Wednesday to debate his proposal.

If they block it in a no-confidence vote, Vizcarra will then be empowered by Peru’s constitution to dissolve congress, something he has already threatened.

Peru’s congress was last closed in 1992 during the authoritarian rule of Alberto Fujimori.

But polls suggest they are rallying behind Vizcarra’s campaign to clean up politics following the leak of several videos showing judges negotiating bribes with politicians to settle cases.

Vizcarra took over as president in March after Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned amid a vote-buying scandal.

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