Peru’s President Reshuffles Cabinet as Popularity Sinks

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Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, in a surprise cabinet shake-up, replaced his foreign affairs, interior and transportation ministers as his popularity sank to new lows.

Humala swore-in Gonzalo Gutierrez, Peru’s ambassador to top trade partner China, as his new foreign affairs minister. Daniel Urresti, currently the czar-in-charge of preventing illegal mining, will become the sixth interior minister. Jose Gallardo, an economist on the board of the central bank, became Humala’s new transportation and communications minister, Reuters reported.

Humala, a former left-leaning military officer who turned to the right after being elected to the country’s top job in July 2011, did not refer to his reason for the replacements.

Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal remained in power despite speculation he might step down after Humala proposed weakening some of his ministry’s functions in an economic reform package delivered to Congress.

Humala has reshuffled his cabinet several times in his nearly three-year administration, as disappointment with unfulfilled electoral promises, concerns about crime and corruption and relatively sluggish economic growth over the past year have deflated his popularity.

Humala’s approval rating slipped to 21 percent this month – a new low in his administration, according to an Ipsos poll. Those surveyed listed public safety and governmental corruption as top complaints.

Previous Peruvian presidents have governed with single-digit approval ratings.

Presidents in Peru, who cannot serve two consecutive terms, traditionally make cabinet changes in July and December.

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