January 9, 2018 / 7:56 PM / 4 months ago

Peru's Kuczynski reshuffles Cabinet after Fujimori uproar

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian center-right President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski replaced nearly half of his 19-member Cabinet on Tuesday, after back-to-back crises in his government last month triggered political resignations and protests.

Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and new Defense Minister Jorge Kisic react during the minister's swearing-in ceremony at the government palace in Lima, Peru January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

Kuczynski had promised to reveal a “Cabinet of reconciliation” nearly two weeks ago amid an uproar over his Christmas Eve pardon for former authoritarian leader Alberto Fujimori, whose loyalists in Congress saved Kuczynski from an impeachment bid three days prior.

A 79-year-old former Wall Street banker, Kuczynski has struggled to govern alongside a Congress controlled by Fujimori’s sympathizers. At least 19 ministers have left Kuczynski’s Cabinet since he took office less than two years ago, including four forced from office by Congress.

Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and new Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Jose Arista attend a swearing-in ceremony at the government palace in Lima, Peru January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

However, Fujimori’s loyalists have divided the main opposition party and could help Kuczynski govern, possibly offsetting support that Kuczynski has lost from centrists and leftists.

Slideshow (4 Images)

“Despite our differences, I ask you for us to join together to fight the real problems facing our nation: poverty, unequal services and opportunities, the lack of security, corruption,” Kuczynski said in a brief speech after swearing nine ministers into his Cabinet.

Kuczynski promoted Deputy Energy Minister Angela Grossheim to become energy and mines minister and kept Finance Minister Claudia Cooper and Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros in their posts.

Cayetana Aljovin, the outgoing energy and mines minister and a former journalist and lawyer, was named the foreign minister, replacing Ricardo Luna, who had helped Peru lead regional efforts to demand democratic reforms in Venezuela.

Only three out of the eight new ministers who were sworn in on Tuesday have political experience. The rest mostly worked as career civil servants or in the private sector.

Two of the new ministers were members of the rightwing party, Apra, which is affiliated with former President Alan Garcia. Apra announced on Twitter that it was expulsing both for defying the party’s decision to not form part of Kuczynski’s new Cabinet.

Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler

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