Peru’s president swears in fourth cabinet in six months

Pedro Castillo’s latest reshuffle comes amid internal struggles in the government and attacks by right-wing groups.

Peru's President Pedro Castillo, left, waves alongside his new Cabinet Chief Anibal Torres, during the swearing-in of Castillos´s new Cabinet, at the government palace in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022
Peru's President Pedro Castillo, left, swears in Anibal Torres as his new prime minister [Martin Mejia/AP Photo]

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo has sworn in his fourth cabinet since taking office six months ago, replacing his latest prime minister who lasted three days on the job.

The latest reshuffle comes amid continued internal struggles within the government that have defined the left-wing leader’s first months as president.

Castillo has also faced attacks from far-right opposition groups – who have sought unsuccessfully to impeach him – and from Peru’s ruling Marxist Free Peru party, under which he was elected but has since distanced himself. The party has condemned the president’s more centrist economic policies.

On Tuesday, Castillo swore in as prime minister Anibal Torres, a 79-year-old who has been the head of the justice ministry since the current government took power in July.

That came a week after Castillo, a school teacher who campaigned on restructuring the Latin American country’s economy to better serve the poor, swore in his third cabinet following the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez due to disagreements over promotions in the police force.

In his place, Castillo appointed lawyer and parliamentarian Hector Valer Pinto, who left the role after Lima media reported that his wife and daughter had denounced him in 2016 for alleged domestic violence.

In the latest shuffle, Castillo also named Hernan Condori, a doctor with experience in the Amazon Indigenous territories, as his health minister amid a surge in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

He named nuclear physicist Modesto Montoya environment minister amid an ongoing disaster in Peru’s capital following the mid-January spill of 11,900 barrels of oil into the Pacific Ocean

Castillo left previously appointed finance minister Oscar Graham and foreign minister Cesar Landa in their posts.

Political analyst Eduardo Ballon told the daily La Republica that Castillo’s cabinet woes were “the continuation of a longstanding crisis” in Peru’s political system.

Since 2017, the country has faced bouts of political instability as legislators pushed repeated impeachment, or “vacancy” motions, in Congress to remove presidents.

The country had three presidents in five days in November 2020.

Torres now has 30 days to get a vote of confidence from Congress for the new cabinet, or he will be forced to make a fifth round of appointments.

Castillo’s incoming Prime Minister Torres has notably been in favour of sending former President Alberto Fujimori, in power from 1990 to 2000, to a common prison instead of his current special prison to serve out his 25-year sentence for his role in killings by death squads.

Fujimori is the father of Castillo’s rival, former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies