Page last updated at 00:31 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 01:31 UK

Peru president reshuffles cabinet

By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima

Peru's President Alan Garcia (left) and PM Javier Velasquez Quesquen
Garcia (left) hopes that Velasquez will rebuild the cabinet

Peruvian President Alan Garcia has overhauled his cabinet appointing a new prime minister, Javier Velasquez Quesquen, and replacing seven others.

The move comes a month after the worst political violence Peru has seen in years, when at least 33 police officers and protesters were killed in clashes.

The violence came as security forces tried to end a blockade of roads and fuel pipelines by indigenous people.

They were protesting at what they see as exploitation of ancestral lands.

The changes at the top of Peruvian politics are intended to breathe fresh air into a cabinet which has been widely discredited.

It was criticised for its handling of protests by indigenous groups over Amazon land rights.

Anti-government protests, Lima, 8 July 2009
Protesters had demanded changes in government

The new Prime Minister, Javier Velasquez Quesquen, is an insider in the governing party, and the president of Congress.

He replaces Yehude Simon, a former leftist who was chosen to build bridges with groups opposed to the government.

The controversial Interior Minister, Mercedes Cabanillas, who denied responsibility for last month's deadly police operation, has been replaced by former national police chief, Octavio Salazar.

The defence, commerce, work, justice, agriculture and industry ministers have also been replaced.

President Garcia said he would make the changes earlier this week ahead of a three-day national strike.

Critics say Mr Garcia's government is in the midst of its worst political crisis since he took office three years ago.

Much of the discontent stems from an economic slowdown and rising unemployment.

Poorer Peruvians say they have not benefitted from Mr Garcia's free market policies.

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