Peruvian Defense Minister resigns after controversy over officer promotions

Peruvian Defense Minister resigns after controversy over officer promotions

Walter Ayala, the Minister of Defense of Peru, He presented his resignation to President Pedro Castillo yesterday after being questioned for alleged pressure to promote military officers related to the new leftist government.

“I put my position at the disposal of the president of the Republic and Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces, thanking my country and fulfilling my duty to the country. Do not use pretexts against democracy, “Walter Ayala wrote on Twitter, after a meeting with the president in the government palace.

President Pedro Castillo has not confirmed whether he accepts or rejects the resignation of the defense minister, a 50-year-old former judge. If accepted, he would be the tenth minister to lose Castillo in just over 100 days in power.

Irregular ascents

Castillo removed the Army Commander, General José Vizcarra, and the Chief of the Air Force, General Jorge Chaparro, four days ago. Both affirmed this Monday that their departures were due to friction with Minister Ayala and with Castillo’s secretary, Bruno Pacheco, who asked them to irregularly promote officials related to the government.

“I received some requests […] through Secretary Bruno Pacheco, through the Defense Minister and the Defense Minister’s aide, “Vizcarra told the RPP radio station.

“I told him no way […]that the meritocracy and the procedures established in the promotion law would be respected, “Chaparro told the newspaper El Comercio.

After the statements of the removed commanders, several opposition legislators -including retired soldiers- announced their intention to question Ayala, which would probably lead to the minister being censored by the opposition majority Congress and resulting in his departure from office.

Other disclaimers

Last week the Interior Minister resigned, Luis Barranzuela, questioned for having held a party at his house in Lima in violation of a ban aimed at preventing Covid-19 infections. A month ago Castillo had fired seven ministers, including the then chief of staff, Guido Bellido, and in August he had changed his chancellor.

In place of Vizcarra, General Walter Córdova assumed this Monday, while General Alfonso Ardati replaced Chaparro. The two removed chiefs had been appointed by Castillo three months ago.

Castillo, in power since July 28, narrowly defeated right-wing Keiko Fujimori in a ballot, which raised fears in part of Peruvians of an abrupt turn towards socialism after decades of liberal policies.

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