Peru’s Kuczynski eyes naming VP as new prime minister: sources

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LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian President Pedro Kuczynski is considering appointing Martin Vizcarra, his vice president and former transportation minister, as his new prime minister in a swearing-in ceremony for a new Cabinet scheduled for Sunday, two government sources said Friday.

Kuczynski announced Friday that he had canceled his trip to New York City, where he was due to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump and deliver a speech at the United Nations General Assembly next week, after Congress ousted his Cabinet in a vote of no-confidence.

Kuczynski did not detail whom he might name to be part of his new Cabinet in the brief televised message to the nation that followed a day of strategizing with advisers.

Kuczynski is also eyeing Claudia Copper, who is now the deputy economy minister, as his new finance minister, one of the sources said. A third source confirmed she was being considered.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

Congress, controlled by a party led by right-wing defeated presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, voted 77-22 to dismiss the Cabinet in the early hours of Friday, plunging the copper-producing country into its worst political crisis in years.

Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski attends the 131st IOC session in Lima, Peru, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

The political turmoil threatens to stall Peru’s incipient economic recovery in a worst-case scenario, Central Bank Chief Julio Velarde said. He made a rare plea for politicians to avoid fanning political tensions after presenting a quarterly report.

Aside from a 0.3 percent depreciation of the local sol currency early on Friday, Velarde said he did not see major impacts on markets, however.

After the vote, Kuczynski had 72 hours to swear in a new Cabinet. He can legally reappoint members of his Cabinet except for his prime minister, Fernando Zavala, who has been doubling as finance minister since Congress ousted his former finance minister in June.

Zavala is not expected to be renamed finance minister.

Despite the sparring in the legislative branch, Kuczynski, a former investment banker, and Fujimori, the daughter of former autocratic President Alberto Fujimori, broadly share the same free-market economic ideology. They clash on social issues, however, and the conservative populist Fujimori lost the presidency to Kuczynski by a razor-thin margin last year.

In a plenary debate that stretched on for more than seven hours, her allies portrayed Kuczynski, 78, as an out-of-touch lobbyist who lacks authority and poses a danger to Peru.

Kuczynski has sought to modernize Peru and give the Andean country a leadership role in Latin America on issues such as the Venezuelan crisis.

Writing by Mitra Taj and Caroline Stauffer; editing by Diane Craft and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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