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In Peru Congress to decide on Fujimori son's political fate

Peru's Congress will debate Wednesday whether to dismiss popular lawmaker Kenji Fujimori on corruption charges, the latest twist in his battle against his sister Keiko for control of their father's political dynasty.

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Kenji Fujimori, pictured, and two other lawmakers are accused of buying votes to help disgraced former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski survive an impeachment vote in December play

Kenji Fujimori, pictured, and two other lawmakers are accused of buying votes to help disgraced former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski survive an impeachment vote in December

(AFP/File)
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Peru's Congress will debate Wednesday whether to dismiss popular lawmaker Kenji Fujimori on corruption charges, the latest twist in his battle against his sister Keiko for control of their father's political dynasty.

The move could split Keiko's main opposition Fuerza Popular (Popular Force) party and lead to both offspring facing off against each other in the 2021 presidential elections, analysts say.

Kenji Fujimori and two other lawmakers are accused of buying votes to help disgraced former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski survive an impeachment vote in December.

A Congressional commission controlled by Keiko's party has already approved a report recommending her younger brother's dismissal from Congress.

But on the eve of the Congress session, Kenji, 38, denied he was a "political corpse" and said he had himself been the victim of political skulduggery, claiming his parliamentary office had been broken into at the weekend.

-'No fair play'-

"Maybe they've put microphones in there...or they just want to distract my defense for Wednesday. There's no fair play," he said on Twitter.

"I do not trust the security chiefs in Congress," which are headed by Luis Galarreta, a supporter of Keiko, 43.

He also blames his sister ordering the secret filming and publication of a video proving the vote-buying episode.

"Political corpse...I'm not. I'm in a coma. Let's make it simpler, it's like jiu-jitsu, they're making a move on me. They want to choke me. But there's still air and blood flow. I'm waiting for the perfect moment to escape the hold," he said.

The outcome of Wednesday's debate is far from certain, as it will depend on negotiations behind the scenes and how lawmakers from several minority parties decide to vote.

The leftist Frente Amplio party "will not involve itself in the game" to oust Kenji, said one of its lawmakers, Marco Arana.

Gilbert Violeta, for the center-right Peruvians for Change party once led by Kuczynski, said the move "does not seem like a correct process."

Siblings split

The split between the siblings goes back to disagreements over how to get their father out of prison, where he was serving a 25-year sentence linked to his decade in power.

In late 2017 it seemed that the Popular Force lawmakers, who had already forced several of Kuczynski's cabinet ministers to resign, had cornered the president on corruption charges.

But Keiko saw his chance when Kuczynski faced impeachment, going against his elder sister and the party leadership in abstaining from the vote with a few breakaway lawmakers, ensuring Kuczynski, the rival who had defeated Keiko in the 2016 election, survived.

The video showing him trying to bribe another lawmaker dates from this time.

Days later Kuczynski pardoned Alberto Fujimori and released him from prison, in what appeared to be a blunt quid pro quo.

But Kuczyski's reprieve did not last long. Dogged by a corruption scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, he was forced to step down on the eve of a new impeachment vote in Congress in March.

Kenji has been elected twice to the chamber, both times with a higher number of votes than any other lawmaker -- and if he runs for president, analysts believe he will take enough votes away from Keiko to destroy her presidential ambitions.

But Keiko and her supporters also have a final twist of the knife up their sleeves: if they proceed to kick Kenji out, Congress could ban him from elected office for 10 years.

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