Congressional Leaders Agree to Void Election of Officials

Congressional leaders agreed on Monday to hold an extraordinary session to annul last week’s election of members to the country’s highest court, to the Defensoria del Pueblo, and the Central Bank.

Congressional President Victor Isla, a lawmaker for President Ollanta Humala’s ruling Gana Peru party, said the session will be held this Wednesday.

“It is clear that we have to follow procedure, that’s why the extraordinary legislative session is for Wednesday. I understand that between today and tomorrow all of the formalities will be fulfilled,” Isla said, according to daily El Comercio.

Isla declined to say when he thinks that a new election will be held for the positions.

The election of six new members to the Constitutional Court, a new president for the Defensoria del Pueblo and three new directors for the Central Bank caused a firestorm ofcriticism last week.   Not only did Congress change the voting rules —by holding the elections in one block session rather than separately for each institution— but more seriously, many of the appointees were political partisans, or had questionable backgrounds, raising concerns that they would not independently represent the institutions.

Days prior to the election, a recording was released of a conversation between members of Congress from the different parties that clearly showed an attempt to share out the positions among their own favorite candidates, including insistence by the Gana Peru ruling party to hold three seats o the Constitutional Court.  In exchange, the Defensoria del Pueblo, or public ombudsman, was chosen for Pilar Freitas, a card-carrying member of former President Toledo’s Peru Posible party.  The heaviest criticism was reserved for the election to the Constitution Court of Rolando Sousa, a former congressman and high profile member of the Fujimori party whose decisions and actions in Congress led the Human Rights Coordinator to file a plea to withdraw his candidacy because he was “unfit” for the post.

Despite criticism from analysts and the public, Congress went ahead with the election. The result was protests in the Plaza San Martin and across the social media networks, and newspaper headlines that included “Indignation” and “Disgusting”.

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