Rumours that a ministerial shake-up within the Juan Manuel Santos government was on the cards, were confirmed Friday, when the head of state asked 15 members of his cabinet to present their letters of resignation.
As the Colombian president reaches the midterm of his second mandate, the cabinet overhaul is hardly a crisis of confidence, but rather accepted political practice allowing the executive to make important changes in order to push through legislation before Congress including a controversial tax reform bill.
The shake up comes a month after the representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla and government peace negotiators failed to reach an agreed upon March 23 deadline for the signing a definitive peace accord. Both sides of the negotiating table in Havana, Cuba, have stated that a peace accord will be signed this year, ending the longest-running conflict in the western hemisphere.
In order for FARC to launch themselves a political party for the 2017 elections, they must have handed over their weapons by December this year. The demobilization process is expected to last six months. July could be the month for the new peace deadline.
Last month the Casa Nariño announced it would start formal peace talks with the country’s second and smaller guerrilla organization, the National Liberation Army (ELN).
Faced with a disapproval rating of 69 percent according to a Gallup poll released March, Santos returned Friday to the Colombian capital after signing the Paris climate accord in New York.
On Thursday, the president addressed the United Nations calling for a radical overhaul of global policy towards drug trafficking and organised crime.
“How do I explain to a poor Colombian farmer that he’s going to jail for growing marijuana when in states like Colorado or Washington anyone can freely produce, sell and consume that same marijuana? It doesn’t make sense,” Santos remarked to a special session of the organization.
While Santos prepares to appoint future ministers of a post-conflict cabinet, he did formalise economist German Arce as the incoming Minister of Mines and Energy.