June 18, 2017 / 5:26 PM / 2 months ago

Peru finance minister says he will not resign despite censure threat

LIMA, June 18 (Reuters) - Peru's Finance Minister Alfredo Thorne said on Sunday that he has the confidence of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and will not resign, defying demands he leave his post and threats of censure by the opposition-dominated Congress.

Thorne, who defended himself in Congress on Friday over a recording in which he appears to ask the comptroller's office to approve a $520 million airport contract in exchange for a bigger budget, wrote on Twitter that he had a "clean conscience, the confidence of the president and of the cabinet."

"I am not going to resign," Thorne told newspaper El Comercio in an interview published Sunday, which he shared from his Twitter account. "Congress can censure me, or support me to move the economy forward." [bit.ly/2tCgjGi]

Thorne's defense on Friday did not convince opposition lawmakers, who said they will censure him to force his dismissal if he does not resign in the coming days. Congress is dominated by right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori's Popular Force party. Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, lost to Kuczynski in last year's razor-thin election.

"If the parliamentary majority wants to censure me it can do so, the Constitution allows it," Thorne wrote on Twitter. "If not, we can move forward together and make the country grow."

In audio recordings released earlier this month by the Panamericana television channel, Thorne asked comptroller Edgar Alarcon to approve a contract to build an airport in Cuzco, which was ultimately cancelled due to irregularities and prompted the transportation minister's resignation. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Diane Craft)

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