Peru’s leftwing president Pedro Castillo says he has accepted the resignation of his divisive prime minister Guido Bellido, in what appeared to be an attempt to distance himself from the Marxist party that helped to propel him into power.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Castillo did not give a specific reason for the resignation but said it was “time to put Peru above all ideology and isolated party impositions”.
“I have decided to take some decisions in favour of governability,” the president said, adding that he would swear in a new cabinet later in the day.
Castillo stunned the country on July 29 by naming Bellido as his prime minister, just a day after his inauguration as the most unlikely and radical leftist president in Peru’s recent history.
Bellido is a former Marxist congressman sympathetic to the Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path. On several occasions he has sought to justify the actions of the insurgents whose war with the state claimed 70,000 lives in the 1980s and 1990s.
The appointment immediately plunged the Castillo government into crisis. Several more moderate leftists baulked at joining the government. Carlos Basombrio, a former interior minister, described Bellido’s appointment as “disgusting” and said that “democracy in Peru is at serious risk”.
Since then, the Castillo administration has been marked by chaos and confusion.
In August Castillo’s 85-year-old foreign minister, Héctor Béjar, a former leftwing guerrilla who has defended the regimes in Cuba and Venezuela, quit after just 19 days in the job when videos emerged in which he claimed Shining Path was “largely a product of the services of the CIA”.
Castillo, a rural primary school teacher with no party of his own, won June’s election as a candidate for Free Perú, the Marxist party of which Bellido is a member. The rightwing opposition has urged him to move away from the party or face eventual impeachment in congress, where he does not have a majority.