(Adds confirmation from Villanueva, context)
By Marco Aquino
LIMA Feb 24 Peruvian Prime Minister Cesar
Villanueva said on Monday that he was stepping down after just
four months in office and a recent public spat with the finance
minister and the first lady over his effort to raise the minimum
The government did not immediately announce any other
Villanueva said on local broadcaster RPP that President
Ollanta Humala had accepted his resignation on Monday after he
told a local newspaper that he was working on a new wage law
with the finance ministry.
First Lady Nadine Heredia and later Finance Minister Luis
Miguel Castilla, one of Humala's few original cabinet members
who have remained in power, denied that the government was
working on raising the minimum wage.
Castilla's rebuttal late on Sunday was widely interpreted as
a way to embarrass Villanueva and to push him from power.
Humala has not yet commented on the dispute.
Villanueva is the fourth cabinet chief to resign from the
government of Humala, who started the second half of his
five-year term in January with a 26 percent approval rating.
Humala's popularity rose to 33 percent in February after an
international court's ruling on a maritime border dispute with
Chile that gave Peru control of new waters.
Villanueva's departure does not necessarily mean a broader
cabinet reshuffling. In Peru, presidents rather than prime
ministers form cabinets.
Villanueva was the twice-elected president of a northern
Amazonian region and was affiliated with center-left parties.
Humala, a former left-leaning nationalist radical, raised
the minimum wage twice, to 750 soles ($267 per month), after
being elected on promises to make sure more Peruvians benefit
from the fast-growing country's mineral exports.
($1 = 2.81 soles)
(Additional reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by James Dalgleish
and Lisa Von Ahn)