Mexico's Pena Nieto appoints top aides to major Cabinet posts

MEXICO CITY Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:45pm EST

1 of 4. Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto takes part in a meeting with Canada's Governor General David Johnston (not pictured) at Rideau Hall in Ottawa November 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's incoming president, Enrique Pena Nieto, on Friday named close allies to head the important finance and interior ministries as he seeks to spur growth and reduce drug-related violence in Latin America's second-biggest economy.

Right-hand man Luis Videgaray will take on the Finance Ministry, while Pena Nieto's close political ally Miguel Angel Osorio Chong will oversee a strengthened Interior Ministry that will be responsible for security in the new government.

Their jobs will be to push through economic reforms and restore order in a country where more than 60,000 people have been killed in turf wars between drug gangs and the cartels' clashes with security forces under outgoing President Felipe Calderon. The Cabinet posts do not require ratification by Congress.

Pena Nieto, 46, who becomes president on Saturday, is hoping to win over skeptics about the return of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The party's reputation was marred by corruption, authoritarianism and frequent allegations of vote-rigging during its 71-year rule from 1929 to 2000.

Seeking to build consensus across party lines, Pena Nieto also gave jobs to Calderon's last finance minister Jose Antonio Meade, who switches to the Foreign Ministry, and a former leftist mayor of Mexico City, Rosario Robles, who becomes minister for social development.

Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, who had been chairman of the PRI, was named energy minister.

The PRI has trumpeted its desire to pass legislation aimed at stamping out corruption and creating more transparency, but the main planks to its vision for a stronger economy are plans to expand the tax base and reinvigorate oil monopoly Pemex.

(Additional reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by Simon Gardner and Peter Cooney)

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