Peru's president resigns under cloud of scandal

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Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski participates in a military event at Rimac army headquarters in Lima, Peru March 20, 2018.

"Faced with this hard situation that unfairly makes me appear guilty, I think the best thing for the country is for me to resign the presidency of the republic", Kuczynski said in a prerecorded televised address to the nation of 30 million people. If he and the country's second vice president resign in solidarity with Kuczynski, as they vowed during a previous impeachment attempt in December, power would transfer to the head of congress, who would be required by the Constitution to call new elections - for both president and congress - within a year.

"I don't want to be an obstacle for the nation finding the path of union and harmony that it so badly needs and which was denied to me", he said.

Defying Peru's ban, Maduro has vowed to be at the mid-April Summit of the Americas, which his biggest worldwide critic - U.S. President Donald Trump - is also due to attend.

It was not immediately clear if Congress would accept the resignation. His main defender is Kenji Fujimori, who led a splinter group of lawmakers that defied his sister Keiko's leadership of the Popular Force party and blocked the first impeachment attempt.

On Tuesday, Fujimori released seven excerpts from video and audio recordings in which lawmakers allied with Kuczynski allegedly promised public works projects in districts of members of the opposition party in exchange for their support in last year's impeachment proceedings.

A former governor of a copper-rich mining region, Vizcarra has been serving as Peru's ambassador to Canada since September and will return to Lima from Ottawa late on Thursday or early Friday, two sources said.

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Keiko Fujimori, who has publicly taken distance from her father, accused Kuczynski of orchestrating the alleged vote-buying scheme.

"This government believed that money could buy anything", she wrote. There are always courageous and honest Peruvians who are not selling themselves out. He had been facing an impeachment vote on Thursday.

"The opposition has tried to depict me as a corrupt person", Kuczynski said in a pre-recorded video message to the nation that broadcast as he left the presidential palace.

One compromising video purported to show Kenji trying to convince another Fujimori lawmaker to vote against impeachment in December, in exchange for political favours.

"Peru is a strong democracy, and we are confident the Peruvian people and institutions will address this situation according to Peru's constitutional norms", a spokesperson for the embassy said.

After the video scandal emerged, "many congressmen that had supported him stopped doing so", said Gonzalez. The bribes were paid to politicians, their campaigns and political parties to secure lucrative public works contracts that stretched into the highest echelons of government.