Peru's Constitutional Court has backed President Martín Vizcarra's controversial decision to dissolve the nation's legislature last year.
Magistrates voted Tuesday to ratify Vizcarra's move and dismiss a complaint backed by opposition lawmakers of the right-wing Popular Force party led by Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, and the Congress’ speaker, Pedro Olaechea, who brought the charges to court.
Vizcarra dismissed Congress in late September, claiming it was necessary to combat deeply entrenched corruption in Peru.
Four of the seven judges upheld Vizcarra’s decision, voting to dismiss the case. Carlos Ramos delivered the majority opinion report, saying that the "dissolution of Congress should not be seen as anomalous or undemocratic," but neither should it be of "repetitive use."
Judge Ernesto Blume, one of the judges who voted in favour of the lawsuit, said he had "a very radical discrepancy" with the presentation of his colleague Ramos, saying: "I think it must be declared founded because there has been an infraction by the President of the Republic, having dissolved the Congress."
Though polls show Vizcarra’s decision was popular, critics argued it was an overreach of his Executive powers. The decision by the Constitutional Court appears to put Vizcarra's legal concerns to rest and pave the way for new elections.
Along with dissolving Congress, Vizcarra called for extraordinary legislative elections on January 26. The new Congress will assume their posts in March and will have a term of only 18 months, until July 2021, when the current presidential term ends.
Nearly every former living Peruvian president is under investigation in connection with bribery scandals involving the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. Alan García, who served as Peru’s president from 1985 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2011, committed suicide last year when his arrest was imminent.