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Colombia Mines and Energy Minister Resigns Amid Investigations

BOGOTA, July 19 (Reuters) – Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy Irene Velez has resigned, according to a letter shared by her ministry on Wednesday, after two state bodies opened investigations against her.

Both the attorney general’s office and the procurator general – which investigates public officials and can remove people from their posts – have opened preliminary investigations against Velez for the possible crime of influence peddling.

The cabinet of President Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first leftist leader, has seen several changes since he took power almost a year ago.

While the teflon-like Velez has survived previous cabinet reshuffles, she has stepped down, according to the letter, to prevent the investigations from impacting the government.

“Today … I decide to remove myself from the position of minister to avoid investigations against me interfering with the execution of the government’s program,” she said.

“I will always be ready respond to authorities when required,” Velez added.

The investigations relate to allegations that Velez in January pressured a migration official into allowing her underage son to leave the country without the permission required by law.

It was not immediately clear who might be appointed to replace Velez.

In April, Petro replaced a number of officials in his cabinet, including the finance, health, and interior ministers, among others, after a health reform stalled in the Andean country’s Congress.

That reshuffle followed earlier changes to the government in February, where Petro replaced three ministers from their positions in the ministries of education, sports, and culture.

Source : REUTERS