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Peru President Vizcarra's PM loses confidence vote; Cabinet reshuffle imminent

Peru´s Congress on Tuesday rejected a vote of confidence for President Martín Vizcarra´s Cabinet chief, forcing yet another reshuffle of his top advisers in the middle of an economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

By Marco Aquino

LIMA, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Peru´s Congress on Tuesday rejected a vote of confidence for President Martín Vizcarra´s Cabinet chief, forcing yet another reshuffle of his top advisers in the middle of an economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano, the Cabinet chief, lost a confidence vote 54-37 after a marathon parliamentary session that began Monday morning.

The upheaval throws the government's plan to kick-start the Andean nation's ailing economy into disarray. The 19 Cabinet ministers must now present their resignations to Vizcarra, who has no political party or representation in Congress. A new Cabinet must be appointed within 48 hours.

Vizcarra, in a televised address later in the day, said lawmakers had put personal interest ahead of those of the nation.

"Congress decided to add yet another crisis to the detriment of all Peruvians," he said. "A political maneuver that does not seek the welfare of the population will not be accepted."

Vizcarra said he was preparing a new Cabinet.

Vizcarra had been forced to replace more than half his Cabinet in mid-July as his popularity plunged due to the harsh economic impact of the pandemic and a lengthy lockdown.

Cateriano, an experienced independent politician, had presented an ambitious economic recovery plan in Congress on Monday.

Peru, the world's second biggest copper producer, has been battered by the COVID-19 outbreak. It has the third most cases in Latin American, behind Mexico and Brazil. The economy has crashed as mining output sank.

"This is the answer to arrogance, to the lack of proposals. People are dying in the country," said José Luna, leader of the Union for Peru party, following the vote.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Leslie Adler)

((adam.jourdan@thomsonreuters.com; +54 1155446882; Reuters Messaging: adam.jourdan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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