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Pressure mounts against Peru’s president as lawmakers submit request to remove her from office

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LIMA, Peru (AP) — Pressure mounted against Peruvian President Dina Boluarte on Monday as lawmakers submitted to Parliament a request to remove her from office for “permanent moral incapacity” three days after police broke down the front door of her residence to search for luxury watches tied to an investigation.

The request was submitted by lawmakers from various parties including Peru Libre to which Boluarte once belonged. To remove Boluarte, the move requires 87 votes from the 130-seat unicameral Parliament, and so far, five parties that together have 54 votes expressed support for the president following the raid.

Boluarte is being preliminarily investigated for allegedly acquiring an undisclosed collection of luxury watches since becoming vice president and social inclusion minister in July 2021 and then president in December 2022. She has denied the illicit enrichment accusations.

Lawmakers in their request cite the investigation against Boluarte as well as countrywide problems, such as rise in crime.

Late Friday, armed police officers broke down the front door of Boluarte’s house with a battering ram in search of Rolex watches as part of the investigation. The raid marked the first time in Peru’s history that police forcibly entered the home of a sitting president.

The probe began in mid-March after a TV show spotlighted Boluarte wearing a Rolex watch that is worth up to $14,000 in Peru. Other TV shows later mentioned at least two more Rolexes.

Boluarte, a 61-year-old lawyer, was a modest district official before entering then-President Pedro Castillo’s government on a monthly salary of $8,136 in July 2021. Boluarte later assumed the presidency with a lower salary of $4,200 per month. Shortly thereafter, she began to display the luxury watches.

Boluarte did not list the three watches in an obligatory asset declaration form.

On Monday, Boluarte also lost three Cabinet members when the ministers of interior, education and women resigned.

Interior Minister Víctor Torres told reporters his resignation was due to a family matter while the heads of the Ministry of Women, Nancy Tolentino, and of Education, Miriam Ponce, did not offer reasons in the announcements they shared on social media. The president quickly swore in their replacements as well as new ministers of agriculture, production and foreign trade.

Boluarte became president in December 2022, when she replaced then-president Pedro Castillo, who was dismissed by Parliament and is now imprisoned while being investigated for alleged corruption and rebellion.