Peru's president reshuffles cabinet as popularity wanes

2015-02-18 09:06
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala. (Cris Bouroncle, AFP)

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala. (Cris Bouroncle, AFP)

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Lima - Peru's President Ollanta Humala reshuffled his cabinet late on Tuesday in a bid to placate an increasingly powerful opposition bloc as palace scandals mount and his popularity dips.

Humala swore in Rosa Maria Ortiz, the head of a government committee that grants environmental permits, as his new energy and mines minister. Ortiz is also the former head of state energy agency Perupetro.

He also replaced his ministers of justice, interior, labor, and women but left in place his sixth prime minister, Ana Jara, whom he appointed in July.

Opposition lawmakers affiliated with former Presidents Alberto Fujimori and Alan Garcia have called for Jara to step down, arguing her leadership is ineffectual and divisive.

While they lack the votes to force her from power, defections from Humala's congressional bloc have eroded his ability to push through legislation and defend already-passed reforms.

Humala's government is struggling to contain a slew of scandals, from a former campaign manager detained on corruption allegations in Bolivia to an investigation into first lady Nadine Heredia's finances recently reopened.

Humala, a former military officer who turned to the right after being elected 2011 on a leftist platform, has denied any involvement in wrongdoing.

He has dismissed criticism of his government as part of the political noise ahead of presidential elections next year, when he is constitutionally barred from seeking a second consecutive term.

Humala's approval rating slipped five percentage points to 25% in January on the growing perception of government corruption, according to an Ipsos poll.

Previous Peruvian presidents have governed with much lower popularity levels.

Humala also replaced his controversial but relatively popular interior minister, Daniel Urresti, after a protester was shot dead last week in protests against natural gas exploration.

Read more on:    peru

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