Peru: Castillo names new interior minister as cabinet vote looms

Peru’s Congress will hold critical vote on whether to confirm left-wing President Pedro Castillo’s new cabinet.

Peru's President Pedro Castillo, a left-wing former teacher's union leader who took office in July, has faced a tumultuous start to his presidency [File: John Minchillo/Pool via Reuters]

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo has sworn in a new interior minister – his third since taking office only months ago – as he awaits a key vote in Congress on whether it will confirm a new cabinet.

Avelino Guillen, a former prosecutor, is known for prosecuting former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for corruption and human rights violations.

Guillen, 67, will take over from Luis Barranzuela, who resigned as interior minister on Tuesday after allegedly hosting a party on Halloween despite a government ban on social gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Peru’s opposition-controlled Congress is expected to decide on Thursday whether to confirm Castillo’s new cabinet, after his first collapsed last month.

Castillo, a left-wing former teacher’s union leader who took office in July after a hard-fought election victory, has had a tumultuous start to his presidency.

Opponents of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo gather as Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez faces a critical vote of no confidence from the opposition-led Congress in Lima, Peru, on November 4 [Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters]

Last month, he swore in a new prime minister, Mirtha Vasquez, after her predecessor resigned.

The government cabinet collapsed amid political instability and threats from ex-Prime Minister Guido Bellido to nationalise the country’s natural gas sector.

Under Peruvian law, the prime minister’s resignation automatically triggers that of the entire cabinet.

Castillo also made other changes to his government after facing criticism that some of his ministers sympathised with Shining Path, a Maoist rebel group that an official Truth and Reconciliation report said was responsible for killing at least 28,000 people in Peru between 1980 and 2000.

It is unclear whether Congress will approve Castillo’s new cabinet.

His struggles with Congress are in part because the president 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, which holds 24 congressional seats, will vote against the confirmation.

Keiko Fujimori, who faces corruption charges, lost the presidential election to Castillo by 44,000 votes.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies