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Peru names new prime minister

world Updated: Jul 12, 2009 09:11 IST

President Alan Garcia was preparing to name Javier Velasquez, a party loyalist and current head of the legislature, as Peru's new prime minister.

Velasquez will take over an office shaken by social conflicts and a bloody crisis in June over indigenous Indian land rights.

Velasquez is set to be sworn at 0630 IST replacing the embattled Yehude Simon, the office of the president said in a statement.

"With Velasquez a new era begins," Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas told RPP radio network. "He has political experience and is experienced in negotiations, as he has shown in Congress."

Velasquez, 49, has served in various roles as a member of Garcia's ruling APRA party, but has never been a cabinet minister.

A lawyer who has been a loyal party member and served as head of Peru's legislature for the 2008-2009 session, Velasquez will be Garcia's third prime minister in three year.

His selection marks a change of heart for Garcia, who picked the left-winger Simon in 2008 with the goal of putting a "social face" on the president's free-market policies.

The move suggests that Garcia wants tighter political control of the government through the end of his presidency in 2011.