Congress Bans Reelection for Regional Presidents and Mayors

Solorzano, Ana Maria - Congress

President of Congress Ana Maria Solórzano

Peruvian lawmakers have approved legislation prohibiting a consecutive re-election of regional presidents in an effort to curb corruption. The law also bans the reelection of mayors.

In a vote on Thursday, 93 lawmakers were in favor and nine were against the legislation, RPP Noticias reported. Ten legislators abstained from voting on the bill.

“The message is that an authority shouldn’t do something based on thinking about their re-election,” the president of Congress, Ana Maria Solorzano said, according to state news agency Andina.

“The elected authority should return the trust given by the population with works and with a good management of the budget.”

The decision to prevent consecutive re-elections follows accusations of widespread corruption in Peru’s regional governments that reached scandal proportions last year, and led to the arrest of several regional presidents, including the head of the mining-rich Ancash region.

The financial autonomy of regional governments is relatively new in Peru, created over a decade ago as a means to decentralize power away from the capital, Lima. The decentralization occurred at the same time as a global commodities boom that led to a boost in government revenue from Peru’s mines. Half of the income tax paid by mining companies is returned to regional and municipal governments, while the remainder goes to the central government.

Experts say that Peru failed to ensure strong oversight and training during the process of decentralization, resulting in many politicians using their position to gain access to the hundreds of millions of dollars in public money. In some cases, such as Ancash, critics say that organized crime took over the regional governments, providing their allies with shadowy public works contracts and intimidating political opponents. The former regional president of Ancash, César Alvarez, is in jail facing charges of fraud, harrassment and possibly murder but the crony network is still in place as his successor, Waldo Rios, elected in January this year and who is facing corruption allegations himself, is now surrounded by the same people who were close to Alvarez.

Peru’s president is also Constitutionally-barred from running for consecutive re-election.

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