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Peru’s embattled president picks third cabinet in six months

Peruvian press left-wing president Pedro Castillo on Tuesday announced the third cabinet in his turbulent six months in office, appointing a new prime minister and replacing all of his top ministers.

The move came after a chaotic week in which his prime minister, finance minister and interior minister stopped due to allegations that Castillo lacked leadership and had done little to crack down on corruption in his administration.

Castillo, a former elementary school teacher who was elected last year despite having no experience in public office, must now put his heavily reshuffled cabinet of the opposition-controlled Congress to a vote of confidence.

Whether it wins approval or not, Castillo, 52, is likely to face additional challenges for his administration in the coming months, including a possible federal lawsuit. He has already survived such an attempt.

At a ceremony Tuesday night, Castillo swore in a cabinet with 10 amendments, including new finance, foreign, interior, defense and mining ministers.

The new prime minister is Héctor Valer, 62, a lawyer who has flown between political parties and was elected to Congress for the first time last year. He has no ministerial experience.

Oscar Graham will head the Treasury. He is an economist with many years of experience in the ministry and the central bank. He replaces Pedro Francke, who resigned earlier in the day.

Francke was seen as one of the more experienced and moderate members of Castillo’s team, and Graham’s appointment was to help calm any market turmoil that arose after his departure.

The new Minister of Mines and Energy – the third of Castillo’s tenure – is Alessandra Herrera, a lawyer with experience in public administration but few links to the private sector. Mining is the lifeblood of the Peruvian economy.

The new foreign minister is César Landa, a 63-year-old former president of the Peruvian Constitutional Court.

Castillo’s government has been plagued by chaos, resignations and scandals since day one. He has made more than 20 ministerial changes in six months and has fired the leader of the police force, clashed with senior military officers and caused various government advisers to stop.

The turbulence has pulled on the economy and weakened the currency, the sun.

The president has been criticized for reversing politics and for making statements he later had to retire or qualify for.

Mirtha Vásquez said in her resignation letter Monday from her post as prime minister that it was no longer possible to find consensus in the cabinet. In a clear slap in the face to the president, she slammed “the executive” and said “doubt and indecision are unacceptable”.

Earlier Tuesday, a secretary of the presidency resigned, and entered a heartbreaking letter of resignation described the “absence of an organized labor system” from the beginning of Castillo’s presidency. The secretary said the government was plagued by “disorder” and “lack of rigor in complying with the rules”.

Castillo was driven to power by last year’s election of Free Perú, a Marxist party that adopted him as its candidate, although he seemed to have little in common with the ideological.

During his time in office, he has been torn between appointing Free Peru ideologues to positions of power and trying to appease more moderate leftists.

He still has four and a half years left in office, but many analysts believe he will not sit the entire term. Peru cycled through four presidents for five tumultuous years between the 2016 and 2021 elections.

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