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ARGENTINA | 20-09-2021 14:27

Fernández hopes Cabinet reshuffle will put lid on political crisis

President Alberto Fernández has announced a new Cabinet in a bid to smother a political crisis that pitted him bitterly against his own vice-president.

President Alberto Fernández has announced a new Cabinet in a bid to smother a political crisis that pitted him bitterly against his own vice-president after an electoral defeat in legislative primaries.

The reshuffle came one day after Cristina Fernández de Kirchner wrote to the president to demand one, deepening the crisis gripping the Frente de Todos coalition after their poor showing in the weekend primaries.

Juan Manzur, governor of Tucumán Province, will take over as Cabinet from Santiago Cafiero, the presidency announced. 

Cafiero instead became foreign minister, replacing Felipe Solá, who learned of the news from Mexico, where he due to attendthe summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC. 

Due to the crisis, Fernández cancelled his visit to Mexico for the summit and won't attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York either.

The new ministers joining the Cabinet, who were sworn in on Monday, are Aníbal Fernández (Security), Julián Domínguez (Livestock, Agriculture & Fisheries), Juan Perzyck (Education) and Daniel Filmus (Science & Technology). 

Juan Ross was also appointed as the new Secretary of Communication and Press, replacing Juan Pablo Biondi, whom the vice-president had openly rejected and accused of organising "off-the-record operations." 

The government has been going through its most acute crisis yet after the PASO primaries, in which the ruling Frente de Todos coalition won only 31 per cent of the votes at the national level. 

These results put the ruling party's majority in the Senate at risk for the parliamentary by-elections on November 14, as well as any majority in the Chamber of Deputies, with two years of the Fernández-Fernández de Kirchner mandate still to run.

The crisis broke out after Interior Minister Eduardo 'Wado' de Pedro and four Cabinet ministers offered to step down. The officials are all close to Fernández de Kirchner and the move was seen as her attempt to put pressure on Fernández to reshuffle the Cabinet.

"Do you seriously believe that it is not necessary, after such a defeat, to publicly present the resignations and that those in charge facilitate the president to reorganise his government?" Fernández de Kirchner wrote in a letter, in which she also criticised those who "cling to their chairs." 

In the end, De Pedro and the other ministers kept their posts.

The centre-right coalition Juntos, of ex-president Mauricio Macri, obtained 40 percent of the votes cast nationwide in the primaries. It critically made great strides in the Province of Buenos Aires, the country's largest electoral district and considered a Peronist bastion.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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