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Pedro Pablo Kuczynski: Peru's new president faces plethora of problems

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Pedro Pablo Kuczynski: Peru's new president faces plethora of problems

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At the age of 77, former World Bank economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is taking on the presidency of Peru.

The technocrat is to steer the country through the next five years – a term in which he hopes to breathe new life into Peru’s ailing economy.

The challenge facing the ex-prime minister is no mean feat. His election victory rested on a slender majority of just 41,000 votes over right-leaning opponent Keiko Fujimori.

What’s more, her Popular Force Party gained an absolute majority in Peru’s unicameral parliament, meaning Kuczynski – whose PPK Party won just 18 of 130 seats – will have to negotiate a deal with them.

The daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori gained 73 seats in Congress. He is serving 25 years’ jail time for corruption and human rights abuses.

The new leader has already refused calls for him to be excused, saying he would agree for Fujimori to be placed under house arrest, but would not pardon him.

A further challenge for Kuczynski lies in the economy. Following years of steady growth of 6.5 percent, it plummeted to three percent in 2013 and has continued at that rate since.

In order to tackle poverty and to modernise Peru, the new leader is aiming for five percent growth,

“Thirty to 40 percent of people are without good schools and don’t feel safe on the streets because there are no police officers or police stations. Neither do they have access to drinking water or hospitals,” he said.

Kuczynski’s plans for the economy are expected to centre around open markets and boosting foreign investment.

The Oxford- and Princeton-educated president has a tough task ahead of him. Polls suggest Peruvians have little faith in government institutions and are unhappy with corruption levels.

A recent study by the Lima Chamber of Commerce showed that crime cost Peru six percent of GDP in 2015.

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