Peru president challenged by his own party over Cabinet

FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2021 file photo, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo Terrones arrives in the General Assembly hall to address the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters. Castillo's Peru Libre party announced on Oct. 14, 2021 it will not support Castillo's new cabinet.

LIMA, Peru (AP) — The leader of the Marxist party that carried Pedro Castillo to Peru's presidency said Thursday it won't support his newly named Cabinet, creating a political strain on a government with less than 100 days in office.

The leader of the Free Peru party, Vladimir Cerrón, said on his Twitter account that the party´s deputies won't give a vote of confidence to the new 19-member team of ministers headed by Mirtha Vásquez, an environmentalist and attorney.

That means Castillo will have to depend on other parties to get the 66 votes needed in Peru's 130-seat Congress. Free Peru has 37 seats.

Cerrón is closely allied with the man Castillo removed as prime minister last week, Guido Bellido, who was widely seen as an ideological hardliner. The president said at the time he acted for reasons of “governability,” but did not elaborate.

Following the ouster of Bellido — and Castillo's announcement the Central Bank president would remain — the value of Peru's currency rose.

Cerrón complained that the government was taking “an unconcealable turn ... to the center-right” and asserted in a separate tweet that the new Cabinet has been “captured” by U.S. non-governmental organizations, though he didn't elaborate.

Vásquez represented small farmers in battles with multinational mining companies and had backing from some international environmental groups. She was elected to Congress last year, a chaotic period in which Peru went through three presidents, and she served as head of Congress from November until July, when Castillo began his five-year term.

Cerrón said that the party hasn't joined opposition to Castillo. But he added, “Free Peru continues at the side of the people and it is against the U.S. NGOs that have captured the Cabinet.”

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