Chile's President Gabriel Boric (center) speaks during a ceremony introducing new cabinet members, at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile on Sept 6, 2022. (LUIS HIDALGO / AP)
SANTIAGO – Chile's President Gabriel Boric announced a major overhaul of his cabinet Tuesday after voters overwhelmingly rejected a new constitution that was key to his ambitious agenda.
Nearly 62% of voters rejected the new constitution, compared to nearly 80% that had voted to draft a new one in 2020
Just six months into his presidency, Boric announced replacements for his ministers of mining, energy and the interior. He also replaced the minister secretary-general, who oversees the president's legislative agenda.
In a speech at La Moneda presidential palace, Boric said the cabinet overhaul was "one of the hardest things" he has done, but it was necessary to broaden the government's coalition.
"You can't govern superficially," Boric said. "It hasn't been easy, but changes are never easy."
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Boric named Carolina Toha, an experienced centrist politician who served as mayor of Santiago and as a minister under former President Michelle Bachelet, to replace Izkia Siches as interior minister.
Siches, a doctor by trade who gained popularity during the pandemic, faced a number of controversies since taking office.
Giorgio Jackson, a former student protest leader alongside Boric, will be replaced by Ana Lya Uriarte as minister secretary-general of the presidency.
Jackson will stay in the cabinet and was named minister of social development.
The president also announced replacements for the health minister, energy minister and others.
This is the first major overhaul to Boric's cabinet and follows the resignation of Social Development Minister Jeanette Vega in late August.
Boric, Chile's youngest president, promised ambitious social reforms and rose to power on a wave of optimism fueled by hopes over a new progressive constitution.
But public opinion for the president and the proposed constitution quickly dropped, and voters overwhelmingly rejected a progressive new constitution on Sunday.
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Nearly 62% of voters rejected the text, compared to nearly 80% that had voted to draft a new one in 2020. Boric said he plans to draft a new constitution with support from congress and other political factions.
Hundreds of student protesters demanding a new constitutional convention amassed outside La Moneda presidential palace before the cabinet reshuffle. Police dispersed them with water cannons and tear gas.