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Peru’s prime minister says interpellation by Congress is ‘no problem’

Peru’s Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo said on Tuesday evening that answering questions from members of Congress – a process called interpellation – is ‘no problem’ for him. Del Castillo has been widely criticized for making the mistake of appointing ex-fujimorista minister Alberto Pandolfi as head of Peru’s National El Niño Prevention Program.

Pandolfi, who twice served as Peru’s Prime Minister between 1996 and 1999 under former President Alberto Fujimori’s administration, was barred from holding public office for a period of 10 years by the Congress in 2003.

An interpellation refers to the formal right of a parliament to submit formal questions to the government. In many parliaments, each individual member of parliament has the right to submit questions. The respective minister or secretary – or in this case the prime minister – is then required to respond and to justify government policy or acts. Interpellation thus allows the parliament to supervise the government’s activity. In this sense, it is closer to a motion of censure.

Opposition forces in Peru’s Congress had filed a motion on Tuesday for this kind of censure and presented forty specific questions about the case (see the questionnaire here (in Spanish)).

Del Castillo expressed his intenton to fully respond to all questions, without exception, and he would even elaborate on “a lot more of what isn’t even being asked”.

“I don’t have problem to appear and answer questions before Congress because I am not going to confront nor fight with anybody. I am going there to reaffirm our policy of growth”, he declared to the press.

Del Castillo also thanked the Unidad Nacional alliance and its leader, Lourdes Flores, who decided not to support the motion. Instead Flores applauded his intention of appearing voluntarily before the parliament.

“I cannot help but acknowledge this mature gesture and political rationality which, without a doubt, demonstrates that political control can be exerted without affecting the governability principle, as some are trying to do”, he said.

President Alan Garcia publicly reiterated his endorsement and support for the Prime Minister. “For the second time I am expressing my endorsement for the prime minister with whom I am going to continue working together”, he said.

Article by Wolfy Becker