Argentine opposition lawmakers try to impeach Fernandez, success unlikely

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez attends a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany

A group of opposition Congress members will present on Friday a request for a political trial against center-left Argentine President Alberto Fernandez for “poor performance in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic,” lawmakers said.

The request is largely symbolic, with political tensions rising ahead of congressional elections scheduled for Nov. 14. Even sponsors of the measure acknowledged they do not have the votes to pass the bill.

Among other charges, they accuse the Peronist leader of violating the country’s quarantine rules when he held a small party at his residence to celebrate his wife Fabiola Yanez’s birthday in July of last year.

A government decree had forbidden such gatherings at the time.

The scandal broke after a photo of the party circulated in local media this week.

In a speech on Friday in the province of Buenos Aires, Fernandez said he regretted his actions.

“Fabiola called a meeting with her friends, a toast, which should not have happened… and which I regret,” Fernandez said.

A bill to be presented by members of the Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change) party in Congress calls for Fernandez’s impeachment “for violation of measures taken by the authorities to prevent the spread of an epidemic.”

Argentina, a country of 45 million people, has had 108,500 deaths related to COVID-19 so far, according to official data.

“This was a crime that had ethical, moral and governance implications,” Waldo Wolff, one of the deputies who signed the impeachment request, told reporters.

“Beyond not having the votes, it is the right time to bring this up on behalf of a great number of citizens who agree with us,” Wolff said.

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