Peru energy minister survives shake-up of presidential cabinet

Peru's Energy and Mines Minister Jaime Quijandria retained his position through a cabinet shake-up last week by President Alejandro Toledo.

By an OGJ correspondent

LIMA, July 16 -- Peru's Energy and Mines Minister Jaime Quijandria retained his position through a cabinet shake-up last week by President Alejandro Toledo.

Toledo's reshuffling of his cabinet was triggered July. 5 by the sudden and "irrevocable" resignation of Foreign Minister Diego Garcia-Sayan. Five other ministers also walked out in the wake of political turbulence resulting from Toledo's plans to privatize two power companies in southern Arequipa province. Two people were killed and more than 100 others were injured last month in massive protests against privatization.

Quijandria, who was named energy minister by Toledo when he designated his first cabinet last year, helped write the government's master plan—including privatization of energy companies—prior to Toledo's election. Recent polls indicate a large percentage of Peru's population oppose privatization of remaining state-owned companies.

Toledo said Friday that his new cabinet is the first step in giving new strength to his government.

Luis Solari, the newly named head of the Council of Ministers, or cabinet, said regional governments—which face elections in November—must shoulder responsibility for any decisions against privatization of state-owned energy and other companies that could block investments in critical areas such as Arequipa, Cuzco, Tacna, and Puno in southern Peru.

Solari has said he favors delaying privatization until after regional elections.

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