Peruvian President Ollanta Humala was left scrambling to find a new prime minister on Tuesday after Congress sacked the incumbent, Ana Jara, over allegations of domestic spying.
Jara was deposed in a noconfidence vote late on Monday after media reports that the powerful National Intelligence Directorate, or DINI, spied on politicians, journalists, business leaders and thousands of everyday citizens.
The prime minister had been under fire since 19 March, when news magazine Correo Semanal published a sweeping list of Peruvians who had allegedly been targeted by the now-suspended intelligence agency.
Summoned to Congress, Jara, aged 46, said the spying dated back to at least the previous two governments, and told lawmakers she had ordered an investigation. But opposition parties attacked her for failing to end the practice, and succeeded in getting the votes needed to remove her from office, 72 to 42, with two abstentions.
The move automatically dissolves the government, though the president can reappoint ministers to their posts if he chooses once he finds a new premier. With one year to go in his term, Humala now faces his worst crisis since taking office in 2011.
The centre-left president has 72 hours to find his seventh prime minister in four years. Humala broke his silence to pay tribute to Jara, thanking her for her work and deploring her “unfair” sacking. “She was one of the best, if not the best … we ever had,” the president said during a visit to the city of Chosica devastated by mudslides. “I regret this happened but we must respect the decision, because it’s part of the democratic game,” he said, vowing to have a replacement “soon.”