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Page last updated at 00:35 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 01:35 UK

Leftist heads Peru's new cabinet

Peruvian President Alan Garcia (L) watches as Yehude Simon a statue of Christ to swear his oath
Yehude Simon (right) touched a statue of Christ as he swore his oath before President Garcia

Peruvian President Alan Garcia has sworn in a new, leftist-led government days after the previous cabinet resigned over corruption allegations.

The biggest change is the choice of Yehude Simon, a leftist regional governor from outside the ruling party, as prime minister.

Most of the other 16 posts have gone to members of the previous cabinet.

Analysts say the choice of Mr Simon is an attempt by President Garcia to boost his own popularity after the scandal.

The governor of Lambayeque province replaces outgoing Jorge del Castillo, who stepped down along with the rest of the cabinet after audio tapes leaked to the media implicated members of the governing Apra party in bribe-taking for rigging multi-million dollar oil contracts.

Mr del Castillo, whose name was mentioned in two of the tapes, denied any wrongdoing but his position had become untenable after protests from the opposition and general public.

President Garcia ordered an investigation into the allegations and insisted the government must be purged of corruption.

'Balanced cabinet'

Mr Simon said the new government was a "balanced cabinet representing [both] the business sector... and social movements".

The choice of Mr Simon, who served time in jail for alleged links to left-wing rebels, shocked many.

But as a popular regional governor, he has a reputation for transparency and for improving healthcare and education standards.

Critics say booming economic growth has failed to ease poverty for millions of Peruvians, while polls say corruption is the public's top complaint.

Midway through his term as president, Mr Garcia's popularity is at its lowest level since he took office, especially outside the capital Lima.




SEE ALSO
Peru's president appoints new PM
11 Oct 08 |  Americas
Oil row brings down Peru cabinet
10 Oct 08 |  Americas
Protesters decry Peru corruption
08 Oct 08 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
06 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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