News

Six ministers resign in Peru amid probe of president's Rolex watches

By AFP

April 2, 2024 09:37 AM


File photo of the president

Six Peruvian cabinet ministers resigned Monday in a reshuffle that came amid a probe of how President Dina Boluarte obtained Rolex watches she has been seen wearing.

With Peru feasting on a scandal dubbed Rolexgate, Interior Minister Victor Torres was the first to step down, two days after police under his command raided and searched the home and office of the president.

Five other ministers resigned hours later. They held the posts of women's issues, education, rural development, production, and foreign trade.

The government did not explain the resignations but they came two days before the new prime minister, Gustavo Adrianzen, and his cabinet were to go before congress to be sworn in, in a vote planned a month ago.

On Monday night Boluarte swore in six new ministers to replace the ones who left.

Torres said after a cabinet meeting that he was stepping down for personal reasons.

But his departure was widely seen as punishment for the weekend raids targeting the president. He has also taken a lot of heat in congress over a sharp increase in street crime.

Torres said he coordinated his departure with Boluarte. "I am leaving because I asked the lady and she accepted," Torres told reporters.

Peruvian politics is a turbulent world -- the country has had six different presidents in the last eight years.

The latest drama erupted in mid-March when a news program revealed that Boluarte, who has a rock bottom approval rating, owns several expensive Rolex timepieces and it is not clear how she acquired them. She makes about $55,000 a year.

Boluarte, 61, has not cleared things up other than to say the watches are the fruit of a life of hard work.

She is now the target of a corruption probe to determine if she has enriched herself illegally since taking power in December 2022 and for failing to report the watches as part of her assets.

Boluarte is scheduled to give a formal statement to investigators on Friday and has been instructed to present any Rolex watches in her possession when she goes to that meeting.

None were found in the dramatic raids carried out Friday night into Saturday.

Boluarte came to power in December 2022 after then president Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, leading to his arrest and violent protests demanding she step down, and that fresh elections be held.

She is also facing a constitutional complaint over a crackdown on those protests which led to the deaths of more than 50 people.

If she is indicted in the Rolex case, a trial could not take place until after her term ends in July 2026 or she is impeached, according to the constitution.

Congress potentially could seek her dismissal on grounds of "moral incapacity," but that would require the unlikely cooperation of the right-leaning groups that control the legislature -- and are Boluarte's main support -- with their left-wing rivals.


AFP


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