Peruvian minister quits in wake of mine protests

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has replaced his prime minister in the first cabinet shakeup of the president’s new administration.

Humala appointed his interior secretary, Oscar Valdes, to replace Salomon Lerner, an ally who resigned after less than five months on the job.

There are reports Lerner’s departure has been linked to his unsuccessful attempts at negotiating an end to environmental protests that slowed the $4.8 billion Conga gold and copper mining project. Lerner’s resignation comes just days after President Humala declared a state of emergency in the Cajamarca mining area last week.

The president’s declaration gives police and the military more authority to shut down protests of the Conga mining project, which he says will bring thousands of jobs to Peru.

President Humala has not commented on the shakeup in his Cabinet. There is no indication whether there will be more changes in his Cabinet.

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