Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has reshuffled his Cabinet appointing a new Prime Minister in a move to quell a wave of violent anti-mining protests.
Humala on Monday named outgoing Justice Minister and human rights lawyer Juan Jimenez to replace Premier Oscar Valdes, who led a crackdown on protesters opposed to U.S.-funded Newmont Mining Corp's (NEM) $5 billion Minas Conga gold project in the north.
Clashes between demonstrators and police over the project in the northern Andean region of Cajamarca erupted earlier this month, resulting in the death of five people when police opened fire on protesters, and imposition of a state of emergency in three provinces.
Valdes, who had faced criticism for his failure to reach an agreement with the protesters that led to a six-month deadlock of the project, and for his crackdown on the protests, was forced to step down on Monday.
Farmers are concerned that their water supplies could be polluted by the project, which involves moving the water from four lakes high in the mountains into reservoirs the company would build.
Jimenez will be Peru's third Prime Minister since Humala assumed the Presidency a year ago.
The 48-year-old former university professor and adviser to the Organization of American States is seen as a better choice to head an unpopular government which has overseen several states of emergency.
The major reshuffle also saw the replacement of six Ministers in the 19-member Cabinet.
Former Congressman and Deputy Justice Minister Pedro Cateriano was promoted as Defense Minister, while Eda Riva would head the Justice Ministry.
Wilfredo Pedraza, who used to run Peru's prisons, was named Interior Minister, the fourth man to hold the post in one year.
Humala retained Finance Minister Luis Miguel Castilla and Mines & Energy Minister Jorge Merino.
It was the second major Cabinet reshuffle by Humala since he came to power on July 28, 2011.
by RTT Staff Writer
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