LIMA, Peru — After months of political upheaval in Peru, congress has accepted the resignation of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and a heretofore-little-known former governor has been sworn in as president.
Martin Vizcarra will lead a nation where a vast majority of voters no longer have faith in their elected officials and a congress dominated by lawmakers loyal to the daughter former strongman Alberto Fujimori.
Here’s a look at what lies ahead for the Andean nation:
Kuczynski becomes the first sitting president to exit office over his ties to Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal. He has denied any wrongdoing. Two former Peruvian presidents are accused of accepting bribes from Odebrecht and a third is under investigation.
WHO IS VIZCARRA?
Vizcarra, who celebrated his 55th birthday Thursday, is the former leader of a sparsely populated department in southern Peru who became vice president in 2016.
His brief stint as transportation minister ended following questions about his handling of a new airport being built near Cusco. More recently, he’s served as Peru’s ambassador to Canada, where he kept a low profile.
A recent poll showed a majority of Peruvians don’t know the vice president’s name.
Vizcarra will face many of the same obstacles that Kuczynski encountered, but there are a few factors that could work in his favor.
The opposition Popular Force party led by Keiko Fujimori has lost seats in congress: Her brother and a small faction of lawmakers abandoned the party following Kuczynski’s pardon of the feuding siblings’ father, former President Alberto Fujimori.
Keiko Fujimori herself is under scrutiny for allegedly having accepted money from Odebrecht. The company has admitted to paying $800 million in bribes to officials around Latin American in exchange for public works contracts, including $29 million in Peru.
Analysts say that for Vizcarra to succeed, he will need to do something Kuczynski failed to master: Building alliances across Peru’s political spectrum in order to pass legislation through congress.
Vizcarra is expected to continue Kuczynski’s pro-business agenda, but he could start off on a different foot by appointing cabinet members from a wider range of Peru’s political parties.