Rodrigo Rivera and German Vargas Lleras each spoke to the media for the first time following their appointments Wednesday as defense and interior minister respectively, in the incoming administration of Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos.
Speaking in an interview given to W Radio on Thursday, Rivera said he welcomed the role “with very great responsibility.” H said he had known there was the possibility he would be appointed as a minister but hadn’t been sure if he would be placed in the Ministry of the Interior or the Ministry of Defense.
Rivera said that there were no mention at a meeting between Santos and the heads of the political parties about the remarks made made by Vice President Francisco Santos about Vargas Lleras. The incoming minister announced that he will meet with the current Defense Minister Gabriel Silva to start the transition of power on Friday.
Vargas Lleras spoke with W Radio in a separate interview, in which he said he intended to withdraw the project proposed by outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe‘s administration, which seeks to transfer the power to appoint the country’s prosecutor general from the Supreme Court to the presidency.
“In my personal opinion I do not think it is convenient to move forward at the moment, when we want to reestablish relations with the judicial branch, the project of who should appoint the prosecutor general. If the president authorizes me I will withdraw this project on August 7,” Lleras explained.
The judicial and executive branches of the Colombian state have clashed throughout Uribe’s eight year tenure.
The incoming minister for the Interior also said he planned to get rid of the Judicial Council (responsible for distributing the judicial branch’s resources) and will carry out judicial reform in the areas of “constitutional, legal and judicial congestion.” He added that he wanted to pass reforms on the royalties system and create a pension fund for the Caribbean region.
Referring to Francisco Santos’ comments that he is a “traitor” “no loyalties except to himself,” Lleras said he was committed to continuing the policies of the Uribe administration.
Santos announced the two positions Wednesday, following intense speculation in the Colombian media as to which of the two would receive the defense portfolio. The president-elect’s naming of Vargas Lleras as Minister for the Interior was an unexpected development.