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Chile President Michelle Bachelet prepares new cabinet in wake of corruption scandals

Chile's president Michelle Bachelet has asked all of her cabinet ministers to resign, so she can decide who stays and who leaves over the next 72 hours. Corruption scandals have reduced her approval ratings among voters.

Opinion polls in Chile showed President Michelle Bachelet's approval ratings in March and April had fallen to 31 percent, the lowest for her current administration and her 2006-2010 presidency.

She announced on Wednesday night: "This is the time for a cabinet change."

In a television interview Bachelet said: "Some hours ago I asked all of my ministers to submit their resignation, and I will take 72 hours to decide who stays and who goes."

The president recently conceded that corruption scandals have badly affected her administration. While corruption levels in Chile are among the lowest in South America, trust in politicians and business leaders has been hit because of a bank loan scandal involving Bachelet's son and his wife, and a campaign financing scandal involving right-wing politicians and a prominent financial company.

Last year, Bachelet won the election with a promise to fight against Chile's inequalities. The scandals have overshadowed her political agenda at a time when she is trying to push through ambitious labor, education and other reforms.

It is not clear who, if any, of the ministers will stay. Traditionally the finance minister, currently Alberto Arenas, remains in place for the entire four years of an administration.

Bachelet said she had delayed the announcement while the country dealt with bad weather and the effects of the

eruption of the Calbuco volcano.

jm/gsw (EFE, AP)

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