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Chile president Pinera sacks FM in cabinet shakeup

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera -- seen here during a visit to South Korea in April 2019 -- has shaken up his cabinet in the face of faltering popularity ratings
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera -- seen here during a visit to South Korea in April 2019 -- has shaken up his cabinet in the face of faltering popularity ratings AFP/File
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Santiago (AFP)

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera sacked his foreign minister and announced a cabinet reshuffle Thursday as polls showed a dip in his popularity following an economic downturn.

Pinera, a billionaire conservative, said at a ceremony at his La Moneda palace that Teodoro Rivera would replace Roberto Ampuero as foreign minister after pollster CEP showed Pinera's popularity plummeting 12 points.

Pinera also dropped the ministers of health, economy, public works, social development and energy as he sought to bring fresh blood into the cabinet and kickstart the economy.

"I want to share with all my compatriots some changes to the cabinet that I consider necessary," Pinera said, announcing the shake-up.

The reshuffle is the second by Pinera since he won the December 2017 election to succeed leftist Michelle Bachelet.

A spokesman for pollster CEP, Ricardo Gonzalez, said: "There is a deterioration of economic expectations and also a bad perception of the management of President Pinera."

The South American country's economy grew four percent in Pinera's first year, but the government has recently been hit by an economic slowdown accompanied by social protests including a teachers' strike.

On Thursday, workers at the world's largest copper producer, the state-owned Codelco, announced plans to go on strike after weeks of talks on new contracts with management failed.

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