Peruvian President Pedro Castillo leaves congress as he faces an impeachment vote in Lima, Peru March 28, 2022.
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo leaves congress as he faces an impeachment vote in Lima, Peru March 28, 2022. Reuters / SEBASTIAN CASTANEDA

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo is facing an impeachment vote in Congress that could see the center-left leader ousted just eight months after taking office, a result which would tip the world's no. 2 copper-producing nation into a fresh political crisis.

Castillo, a former teacher from a peasant farming family who shot to prominence when he narrowly won election last year, is set to face lawmakers in the unicameral legislature on Monday, ahead of a vote likely to take place after midnight.

Congress voted to impeach Castillo earlier in March over allegations of graft. Castillo denies the allegations and blames them on economic groups seeking a "coup" against his government.

"We have been democratically elected and in that regard we are not going to disappoint. I hope that this page will be closed today," Castillo told state television on Monday.

The impeachment vote remains balanced slightly in Castillo's favor, despite a plummeting approval poll rating. The vote to start proceedings gained 76 supporters out of a total 130 seats. To dismiss Castillo lawmakers would need 87 votes in favor.

In signs of the pressure Castillo is facing, prosecutors earlier in the day raided the homes of his former officials and relatives under investigation for alleged corruption.

Over the weekend, protesters took to the streets in Lima, the capital, calling for Castillo to be voted out of office.

"People can't take it anymore. We are fed up, the people demand justice and all the corrupt people to be gone," said one protester, Claudia Iriarte.

The Andean country has had five presidents since 2016. In 2018, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned before an impeachment vote. Mart?n Vizcarra was impeached in 2020. Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to impeach Castillo in December.

There were signs, however, that the bid to remove Castillo could be losing steam amid doubts from opposition lawmakers in the highly fragmented Congress, which is expected to hear Castillo's defense at 3 p.m. local time (2000 GMT).

"Our conviction is that presidential impeachment is the solution to our nation's problems," said Lourdes Flores, a lawyer and politician who supports the bid. "The ball is in Congress' court."