Chile's struggling president reshuffles government


Santiago (AFP)

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet launched her sixth cabinet reshuffle in less than three years in a bid to strengthen her government ahead of a general election next year.

The 65-year-old leader is one of the few figures to remain in power from a wave of leftist governments in South America over recent decades.

She announced she had replaced her government spokesman Marcelo Diaz with her close adviser Paula Narvaez.

Bachelet also replaced her sport and labor ministers.

"In this new stage, the government must ensure that the reforms we have made will progress and be consolidated," she said in an address at the presidential palace, announcing the reshuffle.

South America is seen to be shifting to the right, with the decline of a wave of leftist governments that dominated the continent over the past two decades.

Argentina's former leftist president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner left office in 2015 and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil was impeached this year.

Now Bachelet's government is wobbling too, a year ahead of its next presidential election.

Her coalition suffered a beating in local elections last month.

The president has fought tough battles in parliament and has faced mass protests demanding education and pension reforms.

She has also been embarrassed by a corruption scandal implicating her son.

Given the tough circumstances, Friday's reshuffle was less radical than widely expected.

Bachelet's much-criticized parliamentary and interior ministers kept their posts.

Bachelet served as president from 2006 to 2010 and returned to office for a second term in 2014.