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Peru: massive resignation of ministers in the middle of “Rolexgate”

Six of the eighteen ministers of the Peruvian government announced Their resignation on Monday, in the midst of an investigation against President Dina Boluarte for alleged acts of illicit enrichment linked to Rolex watches that she is suspected of possessing.

“I'm leaving because I asked her and Mrs. (Boluarte) accepted,” declared Interior Minister Victor Torres leaving the presidential palace and the council of ministers. In office since November 21, he cited “family problems”.

A few hours later, the ministers of Education, Women, and Agrarian Development , Production and Foreign Trade also announced their departures, without providing a reason.

This wave of resignations occurred two days before the inauguration vote, Wednesday by Parliament, of the new Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen and his government. Mr. Adrianzen, a 57-year-old center-right diplomat, replaced Alberto Otarola, the target of an investigation for influence peddling.

In the middle of the night, the president Dina Boluarte administered the oath to the six new ministers appointed to replace the departing ones.

Peru: massive resignation of ministers in the middle of “Rolexgate”

Peru's President Dina Boluarte in San Francisco, California, November 16, 2023 © AFP – JOSH EDELSON

The defection of a third of the government team also comes two days after a search of Ms. Boluarte's home and the presidential office by around forty police officers and magistrates, looking for Rolex watches that the president is suspected of not having. mentioned in her asset declaration.

The scandal erupted on March 15, when a local news site published a series of photos showing Ms. Boluarte wearing different luxury watches. luxury while she was in government in 2021 and 2022.

The new Prime Minister described this search as “an intolerable attack on the dignity of the Presidency of the Republic and the nation it represents”.

– No Rolex –

The police who, alongside the public prosecutor's office, carried out the surprise searches in the context of “Rolexgate”, were theoretically led by Minister Victor Torres. According to several media, part of the government asked him to dismiss the colonel who directed the operations.

Peru: massive resignation of ministers in the middle of “Rolexgate”

Photo provided by the Peruvian Interior Ministry showing former Minister Víctor Torres Falcon upon his arrival in Tumbes, on the border with Ecuador, on January 10, 2024 © Peruvian Ministry of Interior – Handout

After the searches on Saturday, the prosecution ordered Ms. Boluarte to present the watches in her possession during a summons scheduled for Friday. The president's defense claims that the police found a few watches during the operations at the government palace, but no Rolex.

The opposition calls for the president's dismissal, but does not have a majority in Congress, controlled by right-wing parties.

“If Mrs. (Boluarte) leaves, Peru will sink”, commented the Minister of the Interior resigned. “Madame has nothing to hide. I leave in peace, with clean hands,” added Victor Torres.

The new Interior Minister, Walter Ortiz Acosta, is a retired police general who was number one in the fight against organized crime.

Dina Boluarte, 61, also assured that she had “clean hands” and only owned one watch.

She became president after the impeachment in early December 2022 and the arrest of left-wing head of state Pedro Castillo, of whom she was vice-president.< /p>

Peru: massive resignation of ministers in the middle of “Rolexgate”

Search at the home of the President of Peru, Dina Boluarte, on March 30, 2024 in Lima © AFP – Juan Carlos CISNEROS

She is already the subject of an investigation for “genocide, aggravated homicide and serious injuries” after the death of more than 50 people during the two months of social unrest which accompanied her accession to the head of the State.

In the event of prosecution, the Peruvian president cannot, under the Constitution, be judged before July 2026, the date of the end of her mandate .

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116