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ARGENTINA | 17-09-2021 22:40

Fernández names Manzur as Cabinet chief, Aníbal Fernández returns to government

resident Fernández reshuffles Cabinet​​ in bid to overcome schism with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; Juan Manzur in as Cabinet chief, Santiago Cafiero becomes foreign minister; Aníbal Fernández returns.

President Alberto Fernández reshuffled his Cabinet late Friday evening, bending to pressure from his troubled coalition in the wake of last Sunday's heavy loss in the PASO primaries.

Among a number of headline moves, Juan Manzur will become Cabinet chief, while Felipe Solá departs government.

President Fernández spent Friday holed up with advisers in meetings, as he sought to take control of the political crisis that has gripped his government since last weekend's defeat at the ballot box.

At the beginning of the week, the president was reluctant to enter into a reshuffle, but developments in recent days – including a fierce attack from his own vice-president – have forced his hand.

Late Friday night, a brief statement from the Presidency said that Manzur, the governor of Tucumán Province would be Argentina's new Cabinet chief, with Santiago Cafiero becoming Foreign Minister, replacing Felipe Solá.

The president also appointed Aníbal Fernández as Security Minister, replacing Sabrina Frederic, with Daniel Filmus returning to government as Science & Technology minister. Roberto Salvarezza departs.

Julián Domínguez will head the Livestock, Agriculture & Fisheries portfolio, with Luis Basterra departing, while Jaime Perzyck,will replace Nicolás Trotta as Education minister.

Juan Ross will also become Secretary of Communication and Press, following the departure of President Fernández's close friend Juan Pablo Biondi earlier in the day.

Eduardo 'Wado' de Pedro, whose resignation prompted a number of Kirchnerite ministers and officials to follow suit on Wednesday, will remain in place as interior minister, the Casa Rosada confirmed.

In an official communication, the president "highlighted and thanked the work carried out by the outgoing officials and has received the commitment of the designated ministers for this new stage." The new Cabinet ministers will be sworn into office on Monday at 4pm at the Casa Rosada, it added.

The ruling coalition garnered less than 31 percent of the vote in last week's PASO primaries, with the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition taking around 40 percent. The results sparked fears in the government ahead of the November midterms, when half the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and a third of those in the Senate will be renewed. Frente de Todos has a majority in the Senate and had been hoping to achieve the same in the lower house.

On Thursday, Fernández de Kirchner slammed the president in a dramatic open letter, heightening the political crisis and exposing the faultlines in their relationship. The vice-president, who governed Argentina from 2007 to 2015, said she blamed Fernández for the “political catastrophe” caused by his economic strategy. 

She also called for a sweeping overhaul of the Cabinet, just days after five Cabinet ministers and other officials loyal to the former president offered to resign their posts in a coordinated response to the election loss.

Though Fernández initially refused to accept the resignations for now, sources inside the Casa Rosada told the Noticias Argentinas news agency on Friday that the “explosive” letter from the vice-president had “forced” the president to “recalculate.”

"There do not seem to be many options,” said the source, adding that prior to the letter, the president was hoping to resolve any dispute through “dialogue and without pressure.”

Another source close to Cabinet Chief Santiago Caifero told the same agency that the president had two options: “Break Frente de Todos or abide by what Cristina asks.”

Eventually, the final line-up was announced minutes just after 10pm local time Friday, after a long day of negotiations between the ruling coalition's different sectors. 

Manzur's name in particular was expected, after Fernández de Kirchner revealed in her open letter that she had proposed his name to the president for Cabinet chief. 

For the Tucumán leader, the task ahead is great: he must "relaunch" the Cabinet while serving as point man for the ruling coalition's warring factions and the president.

Manzur has previously served in a number of national and provincial officials, incluiding a period as health minister in the Fernández de Kirchner's first term in office in 2009. 



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