Peru's Castillo mulls cabinet reshuffle under pressure from opposition

Bywire - Claim your free account nowBywire - Claim your free account now

By Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun

LIMA - Peru's leftist President Pedro Castillo is mulling a cabinet reshuffle, a source told on Tuesday, less than a month after taking office and as he faces a critical confirmation vote later in the week by the opposition-led Congress.

The source, who is close to Castillo, requested anonymity to discuss decisions that have not been made public yet.

The source said that the ministers on the line belong to the Marxist-Leninist Peru Libre party that propelled Castillo to the presidency and include the heads of the Labor, Transportation and Defense ministries.

The source had said on Monday that Prime Minister Guido Bellido, who also belongs to Peru Libre, had been asked to resign. But he later said Bellido and Castillo had reached an agreement.

Bellido told on Monday night that he was not resigning.

Castillo came to office after a deeply divisive battle against right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori. He was declared the winner of the June 6 election by a margin of just 44,000 votes, or a difference of 0.25 percentage point.

This week, Castillo faces a key test for his fledging presidency, which is seen favorably by just 38% of Peruvians, according to a recent IEP poll.

The opposition-led Congress will vote on Thursday whether to green light the Bellido-led cabinet or reject it altogether, which would force Castillo to go back to the drawing board.

Castillo has already replaced one cabinet member under pressure, his foreign minister, swapping a hard-left pick with a more moderate one.

But pressure is mounting for changes and it is not clear that he currently has enough votes in Congress to confirm his cabinet.

Fujimori, whose party is the second most powerful in Congress with 24 of 130 votes, said on Twitter on Thursday that legislators should not confirm the cabinet.

Fujimori cited allegations against Labor Minister Iber Maravi that he participated in violent acts as part of the Shining Path rebel group. Maravi denies the allegations.

"We will talk with the Labor minister and after that, together with the president, we will make the best decision for the country," Bellido told reporters on Tuesday.

The Shining Path killed tens of thousands of Peruvians in the 1980s and 1990s in an attempt to overthrow the government and install a Maoist Communist regime.

Prime Minister Bellido has also been troubled by allegations that he sympathizes with the Shining Path. In a Facebook post made years before he joined the cabinet, Bellido appeared to defend a former rebel.

In response, prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether Bellido is a "terrorism apologist", although no charges have been filed. He denies the allegations.


(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Bywire will email you from time to time with news digests, stories & opportunities to get involved. Privacy

Bywire - Claim your free account nowBywire - Claim your free account now