LIMA, Peru — The son of former strongman Alberto Fujimori is creating his own bloc in Peru’s congress after being kicked out of the party led by his sister, a move that significantly weakens the opposition’s clout as it moves past its failed attempt to impeach the nation’s president.
Kenji Fujimori said Wednesday that he and nine other lawmakers from the Popular Will party will now support President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the deeply unpopular leader who narrowly escaped impeachment just before Christmas when the dissident faction abstained from voting.
Standing alongside his colleagues, the 37-year-old Fujimori said, “We are fighting for freedom of conscience, the freedom of expression, (and) against systematic abuses that we have been the victims of, abuses against our founding leader, my father, the engineer Alberto Fujimori.”
The rift between Kenji Fujimori and his sister, Keiko Fujimori, means Popular Will is dropping to 61 seats in the 130-member congress, taking away the “absolute majority” that allowed its lawmakers to pass decrees even without the president’s approval and initiate investigations against officials.
Juan Sheput, a member of Kuczynski’s party, predicted Wednesday’s announcement will pave the way for Alberto Fujimori to have a voice in congress through his son.
“It will change the political geography of congress,” he said.
The upheaval is the result of continuing discord between the politician children of Alberto Fujimori.
Daughter Keiko Fujimori lost narrowly to Kuczynski in the 2016 presidential runoff election and under her leadership Popular Will has repeatedly stymied the president’s government. Kenji Fujimori, however, expressed interest in “building bridges” with Kuczynski.
Just days after dodging impeachment, Kuczynski pardoned Alberto Fujimori from a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses and corruption committed during his decade-long rule in the 1990s. Many Peruvians believe Kenji Fujimori’s abstention from the vote was part of a deal with Kuczynski to free his father. Both Kenji Fujimori and Kuczynski have denied having any such agreement.
The pardon has sparked periodic protests throughout Peru as angry relatives of those killed by state security agents during Fujimori’s rule clamor for him to stay behind bars. United Nations human rights experts decried the pardon as a “slap in the face” to victims.
When Alberto Fujimori led Peru nearly two decades ago it was common to see Kenji, his youngest son, traveling beside him or completing schoolwork in the presidential office. Keiko Fujimori, meanwhile, served as Peru’s first lady for six years after her parents divorced.
Alberto Fujimori has kept a low profile since his release, apologizing to Peruvians in a video posted on his Twitter account from his hospital bed but largely remaining silent.