Approval rating of Peru's Kuczynski drops 8 points after scandal

Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski declares to the press outside the government palace during an earthquake drill in Lima October 13, 2016. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo (Reuters)
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  • Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
    President of Peru, 2016-2018

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's approval rating dropped 8 percentage points to 55 percent after a corruption scandal forced him to fire his health adviser, an Ipsos poll published in a newspaper showed on Sunday. Kuczynski's popularity had risen to 63 percent through September after a razor-thin victory in June's run-off election against right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori. But leaked audios that appear to reveal presidential health advisor Carlos Moreno plotting to "mine" the public health system for personal benefit may have ended Peru's honeymoon with Kuczynski, 78, a centrist former investment banker. Only 39 percent in the poll, published in local daily El Comercio, said Kuczynski's government was committed to fighting corruption. But a majority of those familiar with the Moreno scandal said the government had responded appropriately. Kuczynski's government asked for Moreno's resignation and reported the possible corruption to public prosecutors. Moreno has denied wrongdoing and said he was framed. It is unclear who recorded Moreno and made the audio public. Improving Peru's feeble public health system is a core part of Kuczynski's promise to reduce stark inequalities in the Andean country by making sure all have access to basic services. The former World Bank economist also has promised a zero tolerance approach to corruption. The Ipsos poll of 1,289 Peruvians had a 2.7 percentage point margin of error and was taken Wednesday through Friday. Kuczynski's government faced fresh criticism during the weekend after a man protesting a copper mine in a remote highland region was killed in clashes with police. The Interior Ministry said late on Saturday that it was investigating who had ordered police to crack down on protesters blocking a road to the mine and whether the operation complied with laws on the use of force. Last month Kuczynski won backing from the opposition-controlled Congress for fast tracking his initial batch of reforms, including higher corporate taxes, a lower value added tax rate and plans to boost spending on infrastructure. (Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Bill Trott)

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