Peru's president faces impeachment proceedings over payments
Politicians in Peru have initiated impeachment proceedings against President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski over payments a decade ago from a Brazilian company at the heart of Latin America's biggest corruption scandal.
In a special session on Friday, 27 of 130 members of congress approved launching the process to oust the president.
Mr Kuczynski has vowed to fight against what he said were politically-motivated calls for him to resign.
He reaffirmed his innocence in a televised address around midnight on Thursday, and said he had no management duties in his consulting firm when it received 782,000 dollars (£587,000) from consortiums led by Odebrecht, the Brazilian company.
Mr Kuczynski has the right to a political trial in which he can defend himself.
The president said: "I'm not running and I'm not hiding because I have no reason to."
Vowing to produce his personal banking records for public scrutiny, the former Wall Street investor said: "I'm not going to abdicate my honour, my values or my responsibilities as president of all Peruvians."
Mr Kuczynski said all of the payments were made to his business partner at the firm, Westfield Capital.
His address ended a 24-hour period of political turbulence that started on Wednesday as opposition politicians presented documents provided by Odebrecht showing payments to Westfield as well as four million dollars (£3 million) to another firm, First Capital, owned by the same business partner.
Peru's two biggest parties, which have enough seats in congress to remove Kuczynski, had threatened the impeachment proceedings unless the president stepped down.
Daniel Salaverry, a spokesman for opposition party Popular Force, said: "The country right now can't afford the luxury of having a president that is so questioned."
As recently as last month, Kuczynski had denied having any professional or political ties to Odebrecht and wagged his finger at three predecessors accused of taking bribes from the company.
Kuczynski said all of his earnings from Westfield were duly reported to Peru's tax authority.
Of the four million dollars in payments to First Capital, he said only a single transaction, for which he held up an invoice, was for financial consulting services he provided the firm in 2012 as part of its work on an Odebrecht-owned irrigation project.
"I'm an honest man and have been all my life," he said.
Mr Kuczynski, 79, was elected president in 2016 after a lucrative career in business.
He campaigned on a pledge to clean up corruption and provide much-needed stability in one of South America's most politically volatile nations .