Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday named German Arce as mines and energy minister, replacing Tomas Gonzalez who resigned amid an energy crisis that has left the country on the verge of electricity rationing.
Dry weather caused by drought, as well as damage to electricity generators, prompted Santos to ask Colombians to cut back on electricity use to avoid power cuts. Gonzalez resigned after criticism he did not act fast enough to resolve the problem.
Arce, an economist and former deputy finance minister, takes over as the energy sector is suffering from weak oil prices that have reduced investment and drastically cut government revenue.
The change in minister is one of several expected in the coming weeks as the government enters the final phase of peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that began in late 2012 and are aimed at ending five decades of war.
Santos, whose approval ratings have slumped in recent months, is also set to begin official talks with the smaller rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).
While Colombians are enthusiastic at the prospect of an end to the conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people since it began, they have become impatient at the pace of talks coupled with a slowing economy, high inflation and the prospect of additional taxes to replace the lost oil income.
(Editing by Chris Reese)