Son of Jewish doctor sworn in as Peru's president

Former Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, son of a Jewish doctor who fled Nazi Germany, inaugurated as Peru's new president.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Former Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was inaugurated as Peru's new president Thursday, vowing to kick-start the economy and unite a country torn by a photo-finish election.

The 77-year-old center-right economist, who is the son of a Jewish doctor who fled Nazi Germany, extended an olive branch to defeated rival Keiko Fujimori's party, which controls Congress, saying he would need their help to pass reforms.

He promised to work for all Peruvians, outlining his vision for a "social revolution" in his inaugural address before Congress.

"I will seek equity, equality and fraternity among all Peruvians," said the man known simply as PPK.

Peru needs "not just economic, but human growth," he said, vowing to extend basic services such as schools, hospitals and drinking water to the one-third of Peruvians who lack them.

The normally staid Kuczynski, who is known as a technocrat with a stellar resume, choked up as he took the oath of office, then donned his new red and white presidential sash over his pinstriped suit.

Peru is one of Latin America's fastest growing economies, but growth slowed under outgoing leftist president Ollanta Humala, from 6.5 percent in 2011 to 3.3 percent last year.

Kuczynski vowed to stimulate the economy, revive the key mining sector, fight the poverty that affects 22 percent of Peruvians, crack down on corruption, and strengthen the police and prisons to reduce crime.

Foreign investors and markets have welcomed the new president as a reliable pair of hands, but a large bump is lurking in the road.

Kuczynski's party, the center-right Peruvians for Change, has just 18 seats in the 130-member Congress.

The new legislature is dominated by allies of Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced and jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori.

Her right-wing party, Popular Force, has 73 lawmakers in Congress.

None of them applauded at any point during the inauguration, Kuczynski's camp complained.

It could prove tough for the new president to advance his reform agenda.

There may be lingering bad blood from the election. Fujimori took five days to concede as results trickled in from the remote reaches of the Peruvian Amazon.

In the end she had little choice but to recognize defeat, by less than a quarter of a percentage point.

AFP contributed to this report.