March 24 (UPI) -- Martín Vizcarra is the new president of Peru, having been sworn on Friday.
He stepped into a role left vacant when former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned this week amid a corruption probe into the Odebrecht scandal that revealed a pattern of illegal behavior by the veteran politician. The 79-year-old admitted accepting $700,000 from an Odebrecht affiliate for contracts.
Vizcarra brings relatively little political experience to Peru's highest office. Prior to serving as an ambassador to Canada and first vice president, Vizcarra was a one-term governor of a small mining state.
During his swearing-in ceremony, Vizcarra said he would bring Peru's political parties together to fight corruption.
"The moment has arrived to say enough," Vizcarra said. "We are a country with a future, but that future depends on our behavior."
Last year, Odebrecht, a construction firm, told the U.S. Department of Justice that it shelled out some $800 million in bribes to secure infrastructure contracts. Between 2005 and 2014, the company paid Peruvian officials $29 million.
The Odebrecht corruption scandal has spanned the entirety of Latin America, but Kuczynski is the first president to be forced from office.
Protesters lined the streets of Lima, Peru's capital, on Thursday night to deride Kuczynski and challenge Vizcarra's ascension, a longtime ally of the disgraced president.
"Get rid of them all," activists shouted.
But while many citizens see the country's political class as corrupt, few know anything about their new president. A poll conducted earlier this month found 81 percent of Peruvians failed to recognize Vizcarra's name.