Humala Considers Cabinet Changes

President Ollanta Humala on Tuesday, amid growing speculation that he will change his cabinet this month, said that changes of his ministers will come at the “appropriate moment.”

A number of reports have suggested that Humala is looking at finding a successor to Oscar Valdes as his cabinet chief by July 28, when the President will give his annual address to the nation in the Congress. Valdes, formerly Interior minister, was appointed to head the cabinet in December, following the ousting of his predecessor, Salmon Lerner Ghitis.

Lerner Ghitis left the cabinet only a few months after he was appointed, amid protests against Newmont Mining’s Minas Conga gold project. He was criticized for giving social protest leaders more time to consider negotiation agreements proposed by the Executive. During that cabinet shuffle, Humala also replaced his Mines and Energy minister and his Environment minister, as well as officials in other key cabinet posts.  Several other advisors also resigned as the President shifted his policies to strongly back private investors and demand that social conflict leaders toe the line.

Newspaper El Comercio said Tuesday that alternatives to replace Valdes include Martin Vizcarra, the regional president of Moquegua, and Cesar Villanueva, the regional president of San Martin. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s Environment Minister, and Rene Cornejo, the Housing Minister, have also been named as potential candidates.

Analysts expect Humala to shuffle his cabinet largely due to the ongoing conflict over Minas Conga, and the government’s difficulties in resolving the dispute.

“The changes are going to be made at the appropriate moment,” Humala told reporters, according to RPP radio. “Not before, or after.”

Humala took office last July 28 for a five-year term.

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