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Peru’s President Castillo announces resignation of prime minister

After confirming Guido Bellido’s resignation, President Pedro Castillo is expected to name new PM and cabinet.

Peru’s Prime Minister Guido Bellido has resigned two months into his tenure, the country’s President Pedro Castillo announced on Wednesday, citing “instability” in the country.

Castillo had appointed Bellido after his presidential victory in July, and Congress approved the new administration in August.

“Today I inform the country that we have accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Guido Bellido Ugarte, whom we thank for his services rendered,” said Castillo in a surprise message carried on state television on Wednesday.

Under Peruvian law, the prime minister’s resignation automatically triggers that of the entire cabinet.

Castillo gave no reasons for the move but said a new prime minister and cabinet – which could be the same as the old one – would be announced later in the evening. Bellido’s resignation letter said he was doing so at Castillo’s “request”.

After his resignation was announced, Bellido posted a photo from the movie Gladiator on Twitter with the caption: “We return to the arena where we belong.”

Both Castillo and Bellido are from the socialist Free Peru Party, but Bellido had adopted more hard-left stances and had faced opposition for suggesting Peru’s natural gas sector should be nationalised.

Last month, his cabinet delivered a letter to Argentina’s Pluspetrol, the most significant natural gas player in Peru, asking to renegotiate the firm’s contract with the state to pay higher taxes.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency after taking office, Bellido called for direct state involvement in key economic areas.

“Our feeling is that strategic sectors need to be in the hands of the government,” he said.

“In my opinion, natural gas is a strategic resource and needs to have government participation [as well] as new hydroelectric projects of large size.”

In August, Bellido also delivered a speech to Congress in the Indigenous Quechua language for the first time in the country’s history.

But the outgoing prime minister’s appointment was controversial from the start.

Peruvian media claimed Bellido, 41, was investigated by prosecutors for an alleged “apology for terrorism” over statements made shortly after taking up his seat in parliament in June.

In statements to the Inka Vision online news outlet, he appeared to defend people who supported the Shining Path Maoist group that fought the state from 1980 to 2000 and is designated a terrorist organisation by Lima.

In a Twitter post, President of Congress Maria del Carmen Alva, a member of right-wing Accion Popular, welcomed Bellido’s departure, saying that it came after days of “unnecessary uncertainty”.

In announcing Bellido’s resignation, Castillo said his government supports private investments in the country.

“The balance of powers is the bridge between the rule of law and democracy,” Castillo said.

“Votes of confidence, [Congressional] hearings and censure should not be used to create political instability,” he added.

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