President Alberto Fernández on Tuesday confirmed Cabinet Chief Juan Manzur’s departure from government later this month. A successor has been decided, but will not be announced until the official’s exit is formalised, according to Casa Rosada sources.
Fernández, who appointed Manzur in a September 2021 reshuffle after a disappointing government performance in midterm primary elections, made the announcement at a speech in the northwestern province.
The Frente de Todos leader said that his Cabinet chief would be "returning to the people of Tucumán" in order "to lead Peronism to triumph" in the upcoming provincial elections on May 14.
Manzur is returning to his native province to be Tucumán Province Governor Osvaldo Jaldo’s running-mate. When he joined Fernández’s government, the official opted to take a leave of absence rather than resign his position as governor, allowing Jaldo to step up and assume the role.
The Cabinet chief’s departure will give President Fernández another chance to shuffle his pack. Speculation is rife with three frontrunners tipped for the post: AFI intelligence services trustee, Agustín Rossi, from Santa Fe Province, a former Defence Minister in both the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Alberto Fernández presidencies who is now a central member of the presidential entourage; Deputy Cabinet Chief Juan Manuel Olmos, a presidential loyalist from the Federal Capital who was previously chief advisor to President Fernández and is still his main political operator; and Argentina’s Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli, a former two-term governor of Buenos Aires Province and the unsuccessful 2015 Peronist presidential candidate (although his entourage deny that he is in line for the role).
"Manzur’s successor has already been defined with the offer already made and accepted," Casa Rosada sources said, while adding: "There are still some days to go" and that the announcement will not be made until the post is vacant.
On Tuesday morning Manzur received Transport Minister Diego Giuliano, signing agreements for technical, economic and financial assistance with that ministry that will benefit the province of Tucumán, local news agencies reported.
Manzur’s relationship with Jaldo has not always been on the best terms, with the two men even facing off as PASO primary rivals in the past. They are currently in a phase of reconciliation and have an agreement to campaign together in the province.
President Fernández spent Tuesday in the region where he shared a working lunch with local officials before heading a rally, accompanied by Manzur.
"In the midst of [the Covid-19] pandemic, war and domestic infighting, in such difficult moments I needed Juan [Manzur] to accompany me as Cabinet chief, removing a very important governor from a province, but he had a lieutenant-governor of his calibre who replaced him very well for as long as I needed him,” said the Frente de Todos leader.
Fernández thanked Manzur for joining him in government: "You did so loyally and very forcefully, following the mottoes of unity, growth and development, placing our effort in helping the Greater North emerge from its backwardness."
The upcoming Cabinet changes come at a moment of high tension for the ruling coalition with President Fernández saying earlier in the week: "I know with whom I can govern and with whom not.”
Many analysts saw that as a reference to a dispute from the previous week, when Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro had reproached him for lacking "codes." The Kirchnerite official was reportedly not invited to a meeting of visiting Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva and leading officials from human rights organisations.