Peru's Castillo swears in new minister as he awaits Cabinet confirmation vote in Congress

  • World
  • Thursday, 04 Nov 2021

FILE PHOTO: Pedro Castillo, president of Peru, arrives for the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 21, 2021. John Minchillo/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian left-wing President Pedro Castillo swore in a new interior minister in charge of public safety on Thursday, as he awaits a key vote in Congress on whether to confirm a new Cabinet, his second in three months in office.

The new interior minister, Avelino Guillen, is a former prosecutor known for having successfully prosecuted former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a prison sentence for human rights violations.

Guillen replaces Luis Barranzuela who resigned after allegedly hosting a party on Halloween, while the government had banned social gatherings.

The Cabinet is headed by Mirtha Vasquez, a moderate left politician and lawyer. Peru's first Cabinet collapsed last month amid political instability and threats from former Prime Minister Guido Bellido to nationalize the country's natural gas sector.

Castillo's presidency, and the Marxist-Leninist party that backed him, has spooked investors and sent Peru's currency to record lows. His new Cabinet is widely seen as trying to moderate his administration's stance.

But it is unclear whether the opposition-led Congress will confirm the new Cabinet, partly because Castillo has distanced himself from his Peru Libre party, with some members accusing him of a right-wing turn and announcing they will reject the Cabinet.

The Peru Libre party has 37 seats out of the 130-member Congress.

Keiko Fujimori, the leader of the political movement first created by her father Alberto, has also suggested her party will vote against the confirmation vote. Her party has 24 seats.

Peru also faces a spate of social unrest against the key mining sector, which most recently triggered the suspension of production at the country's largest copper mine, Antamina, on Sunday. Antamina is jointly owned by Glencore and BHP Billiton

Peru is the world's No. 2 copper producer, after Chile.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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