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LATIN AMERICA | 26-04-2023 09:35

Colombian President Petro calls for Cabinet's resignation after fresh setbacks

Colombian President Gustavo Petro calls for the resignation of his entire Cabinet as a political crisis, sparked by his government's struggles to get legislation approved by Congress, escalates.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has called for the resignation of his entire Cabinet as the government struggles to get legislation approved by Congress, two ministers told AFP on Wednesday.

Petro, the country's first leftist president, has so far not made his request public, but in a Twitter post on Tuesday he spoke of a "rethinking of the government."

After nine months in power, the 63-year-old has been unable to usher in the profound reforms in labor laws, healthcare, pensions and the judiciary that he promised during his campaign.

On Tuesday, the Liberal and Conservative parties, and the Social Party of National Unity (de la U) distanced themselves from the government, objecting to elements of his far-reaching reform plans.

Petro, for his part, called for an "emergency government... given that Congress was incapable of approving simple very peaceful articles" on equitable redistribution of land, during a speech on Tuesday in the southwest of the country.

Such a government “doesn’t imply an emergency decree, but means that government workers work hard, day and night, every day, to achieve our objectives,” he said. 

Two months ago, Petro urged his followers to take to the streets to pressure for congressional approval of the reforms. Speaking from the balcony of the presidential palace, the leader said he would not back down.

Weeks later, on February 28, Petro replaced three members of his Cabinet, including centrist Education Minister Alejandro Gaviria, whose criticism of proposed health reforms had leaked to the media. Also sacked were Sports Minister María Isabel Urrutia and Culture Minister Patricia Ariza.

Colombia’s first leftist president is attempting to overhaul the nation’s conservative economic model by boosting worker rights and increasing the state’s role in healthcare and pension provision. But he’s faced stiff opposition, including from allies in Congress and even from members of his own Cabinet. 

Also on Tuesday night, a congressional commission approved the text of a health bill that will be voted on following debates in both chambers. However, several key groups in Congress, including Liberals, Conservatives, and the U Party ordered their members not to back the government-proposed initiative.

In posts on Twitter, Petro attacked lawmakers “who have enriched themselves on public money."

 

– TIMES/AFP/BLOOMBERG

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