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Peruvian judiciary detains Keiko Fujimori on October 10; political turmoil likely

Reports indicate that Keiko Fujimori, former presidential contender in 2016, leader of the Frente Popular (FP) party, and daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, was detained on October 10. She has been charged with money laundering activities and obstruction of justice along 19 officials, including two former ministers of her party. According to judicial sources, Fujimori allegedly ran a criminal organization to collect bribes inside the Frente 2011 party, which preceded the FP. The case is reportedly tied to the Odebrecht scandal that broke in 2016, after investigators demonstrated the Brazilian conglomerate paid considerable bribes to politicians in Peru and across Latin America to win tenders for public works and infrastructure projects across the region. Upon her detention, Keiko Fujimori released a note depicting her arrest as part of a political prosecution campaign. She reportedly faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years. According to a poll carried by Ipsos and published on October 13, 75% of Peruvians believe Keiko Fujimori is likely guilty of the charges presented against her.

Keiko Fujimori’s detention comes only a week after the Supreme Court annulled former President Alberto Fujimori’s humanitarian pardon, granted by President Martin Vizcarra’s predecessor in December 2017. Coupled with her father's troubles, Keiko’s detention will likely prompt demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in Lima over the coming weeks. In this sense, given that Peruvian society remains polarized between Fujimori’s supporters and detractors, any development regarding the contested situation of the former president, his family or supporters, is liable to trigger political turmoil. Bearing in mind that on October 12 deputies from FP submitted a proposal to grant house arrest to convicted seniors, a measure that would benefit Alberto Fujimori, members of this camp could try to use their majority in Congress to attempt to shield Keiko legally. That said, President Vizcarra has already announced that he is not willing to veto any attempt to obstruct the judicial process. He is therefore likely to veto any Congressional decision perceived to contradict the judicial branch. Moreover, taking into account that the FP is blocking institutional reforms put forward by Vizcarra in Congress, and highly popular according to pollsters, the deterioration of the Fujimori camp’s image amid corruption allegations could potentially sway the president to dissolve the Congress in the near future. The Peruvian constitution allows the executive branch to carry such measure if Congress persistently blocks policies and appointments made by the president. While it is unclear whether this scenario will materialize over the coming weeks, uncertainty over the issue will most likely add to political instability.

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