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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 July 2006, 04:32 GMT 05:32 UK
Chile head appoints new ministers
Michelle Bachelet (r) swears in Yasna Provoste, as Belisario Velasco looks on
Bachelet (r) is handing Provoste a tough task
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has sacked three of her ministers, four months after she took office as the country's first woman leader.

The interior, economy and education ministers have been replaced.

Correspondents say the cabinet re-shuffle follows student protests six weeks ago and floods in the south this week which killed at least 15 people.

The moves keeps an equal number of men and women in the 22-person cabinet, but increases Christian Democrat numbers.

"We have a new challenge," said President Bachelet, as the new ministers were sworn in.

Alejandro Ferreiro - Economy
Yasna Provoste - Education
Belisario Velasco - Interior

"We are entering a new phase in which the central task is to complete the changes we have outlined - reaching a democracy with greater participation by the year 2010."

Belisario Velasco becomes interior minister, taking over from Andres Zaldivar.

Mr Velasco served as deputy interior minister in the first government after the end of the Pinochet regime in 1990.

Yasna Provoste takes over as education minister from Martin Zilic, while Alejandro Ferreiro assumes the economy portfolio from Ingrid Antonijevic.

Although the equal balance of men and women in the cabinet is maintained, the reshuffle brings in three Christian Democrats instead of two members of that party and one socialist.

All are members of the president's centre-left coalition.

President Bachelet, who took power in January, had seen her popularity drop, following the student protests.

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