LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Pedro Castillo came out fighting on Tuesday ahead of an impeachment trial in Congress, accusing his opponents of trying to "blow up" democracy in the copper-rich South American nation.
Peru's congress summoned Castillo last week to respond to accusations of "moral incapacity" to govern, which will precede a congressional vote on whether to oust him.
This is the third attempt to impeach the embattled president since he started his five-year term in July 2021.
"They intend to blow up democracy and disregard our people's right to choose," Castillo said in a ceremony celebrating the creation of the national police.
Castillo qualified the allegations against him as "slander" by certain groups seeking "to take advantage and seize the power that the people took from them at the polls."
"I reiterate that I am not corrupt," Castillo said.
The prosecutor's office in October filed a constitutional complaint against Castillo before Congress for allegedly leading "a criminal organization" to profit from state contracts and obstructing investigations.
In addition to the October case, Castillo and his family face several corruption investigations. Congress is also accusing Castillo of incompetence to govern after appointing five cabinets and at least 80 ministers since taking office.
Castillo, a former teacher from a rural area of Peru, has already survived two impeachment attempts. Both attempts, one last December and the second in March, have failed.
A total of 87 votes, two-thirds of the 130-member body, are needed to remove Castillo. The motion to start impeachment required less votes and passed last week with week 73 votes, most from mostly right-wing parties.
Castillo once again urged dialogue, echoing the Organization of American States mission that recommended a "political truce" between the warring powers in Peru.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Alistair Bell)