Monday, July 23, 2012 -LIMA, Peru—President Ollanta Humala swore in a new prime minister and named five other Cabinet ministers on Monday in a shuffle that comes amid anti-mining protests and a drop in his popularity.
Prime Minister Oscar Valdes, who had been criticized for his handling of a mine protest, stepped down and was replaced by Juan Jimenez, who had been justice minister.
Defense Minister Jose Urquizo was replaced by Pedro Cateriano and Interior Minister Wilver Calle was replaced by Wilfredo Pedraza. The defense and interior ministries had been under pressure amid complaints about the handling of the fight against Shining Path rebels.
The ministers of justice, agriculture and health were also changed.
Humala left 13 other Cabinet posts unchanged, including the economy and foreign minister positions.
Even though it is customary for Peru's presidents to shuffle their Cabinets at the end of July on completing their first year in office, Humala had come under intense pressure to replace Valdes after a crackdown on protests again Newmont Mining's $4.8 billion Conga project left five people dead earlier this month.
Local residents fear the mine project will hurt their water supplies.
Recent polls have shown Humala's popularity dropping to around 40 percent. He will have completed one year in office on Saturday.