Friday, June 14, 2024

ARGENTINA | 27-05-2024 21:47

Milei changes Cabinet chief as Nicolás Posse departs

Interior Minister Guillermo Francos will succeed Nicolás Posse as Argentina’s new Cabinet chief; Transition will take place this week, with further changes expected.

President Javier Milei is reshuffling his pack, with Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse departing government and Interior Minister Guillermo Francos set to replace him. 

It emerged late Monday night that Milei had accepted Posse’s resignation, though local media reports suggest the departure was perhaps closer to a sacking.

Initial reaction from analysts read the change as a move to grant greater control to Francos, a more experienced politician. 

The government confirmed the move in a statement after almost a week of speculation over Posse’s future. 

“President Javier Milei accepted the resignation presented by Nicolás Posse as head of the Cabinet of Ministers. This decision was motivated by the difference in criteria and expectations regarding the progress of the government and the tasks entrusted to him," the Presidency said in a statement.

Issued just a couple of hours before Milei flies to the United States for an overseas visit, the statement confirmed that Interior Minister Francos would take over as Cabinet chief.

Posse will be assigned a new role within the government in the coming days, it added.

The transition will take place in an “orderly manner this week, ensuring continuity and stability in governmental management,” a source in the Casa Rosada told the Noticias Argentinas news agency.

The move will “align the efforts of the Cabinet with the objectives and expectations of the government,” the source added.

Francos will not leave the Interior Ministry, rather his portfolio will be downgraded and assumed into the Cabinet chief's office he will now oversee. The new 'Interior Secretariat' will be headed his Francos' deputy, Lisandro Catalán.

President Milei said in a speech in Córdoba over the weekend that all ministers would be subjected to an evaluation of their management once the outcome of his key ‘Ley de Bases’ reform bill is known. 

Government sources also said that ex-Central Bank governor Federico Sturzenegger – the architect of the 'Ley de Bases' bill – will likely join the government. He will head a new portfolio, which has yet to be named. It will focus on deregulation of Argentina's economy, the sources said.

Rumours began circulating last week that Posse was for the chop, though Casa Rosada officials initially denied those claims. 

The reports were in part ignited by Posse’s non-appearance at President Javier Milei’s book launch event at the Luna Park stadium in Buenos Aires last week. The Cabinet chief was the only major frontline official not to attend the event, at which Milei sang to and lectured a crowd of supporters.

Differences between the President and his Cabinet chief reportedly peaked a few months back, when the two diverged over pay hikes for government officials, lawmakers and congressional staff.

Milei has already lost more than 20 government officials, despite taking office just six months ago. Under the Argentine Constitution, the Cabinet chief is the highest-ranked minister.

Posse is the biggest departure to date and still comes as something of a surprise, given his history with the President.

The duo worked together at billionaire businessman Eduardo Eurnekian's Corporación América conglomerate, forming a working relationship that dates back more than a decade. 

When Milei won last year’s presidential run-off, Posse quickly joined his team.

Just last week, the now former Cabinet chief presented his first management report in the Senate – the first of the Milei administration. It was the first time Posse had made a significant appearance and spoken publicly since taking office.

Francos, Argentina's former representative to the Inter-American Development Bank, played an important role in Milei's electoral campaign.

La Libertad Avanza City lawmaker Ramiro Marra said he is “excited” by Francos’ appointment, considering that Posse’s departure was an “announced departure.”

“I am excited that Guillermo Francos will take on such an important role as Cabinet chief: he is a man Javier Milei trusts and has done a great job at the head of the Interior Ministry. He is a man of consensus,” said Marra.

“Guillermo Francos is an excellent politician, who has experience and will be able to bring the necessary consensus’ to push forward Milei’s legislation through Congress, he added. 



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