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Published: Monday August 18, 2014 MYT 3:20:03 AM
Updated: Monday August 18, 2014 MYT 3:21:53 AM

Popularity of Peru's Humala climbs for second straight month

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Ollanta Humala's popularity rose 4 points for the second month in a row in August, climbing from a record low in June to reach 29 percent after a tough-talking minister was appointed to tackle crime, according to poll results on Sunday.

Humala named Daniel Urresti, a retired military general, his sixth interior minister on June 29 in a surprise cabinet shake-up after his approval rating slipped to a three-year low of 21 percent.

Since then, Humala's popularity has risen 8 percentage points, its strongest two-month climb since late 2012, according to a poll by Ipsos Peru published in local newspaper El Comercio.

Humala appears to have gotten a boost from Urresti, whose popularity jumped 17 percentage points from July to 42 percent in August, according to an Ipsos Peru poll and released on Twitter.

The growing support for the Humala government comes as the economy has slowed to expand at its weakest pace since 2009, and might help Humala push additional reforms to encourage investments through Congress.

Urresti, a retired military general who previously led an aggressive government crackdown on illegal gold mining, has vowed a tough approach to criminals, often taking to the streets to direct stings and promising rapid results.

Crime has consistently been identified in polls as a top concern for Peruvians, especially in the capital Lima where a third of the population lives.

Accusations that Urresti killed a journalist as a young army officer in the 1980s prompted calls for his resignation by human rights activists but appear not to have hurt his overall image. Urresti denies the allegations.

Finance Minister Luis Miguel Castilla's popularity also rose, by 6 percentage points to 25 percent in August.

Peruvian presidents cannot hold two consecutive terms in office and it is unclear whom Humala's party will offer as a candidate in 2016 presidential elections.

Most Peruvians polled said that among the high-profile members in Humala's party they prefer Prime Minister Ana Jara to run for the top job, followed by Urresti.

The poll of 1,247 people was conducted between August 12 and 15 and has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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