Peru's Humala renews poverty vow after year in office

Peru's President Ollanta Humala addresses congress (28 July 2012) Mr Humala said he was aware of the "unsatisfied hopes" of many Peruvians

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Peru's President Ollanta Humala has marked his first year in office by pledging to increase social spending to help the country's poorest people.

In the annual presidential speech to Congress, Mr Humala said he aimed to cut Peru's poverty to 15% by the end of his term in 2016.

He said his government had not yet achieved all it set out to do.

The address comes days after Mr Humala reshuffled his cabinet amid unrest over a controversial mining project.

Mr Humala took the oath of office on 28 July 2011 vowing to eradicate poverty and social exclusion.

But many Peruvians complain that he has not done enough to share the wealth from the country's exploitation of its natural resources.

"I stand at the core of my proposal," Mr Humala told Congress.

"We have begun to lay the groundwork for the great transformation that most citizens of our country crave: inclusive growth... although we have not achieved everything we set out to achieve."

He told Congress that "all beginnings are tough", but vowed to extend social programmes to lift more people out of poverty.

Mr Humala's first 12 months in office have been marked by disputes and conflict and his approval rating fell to a new low of some 40% this month.

Earlier in July, five people were killed in clashes with police during protests against a huge mining project in the Cajamarca region of northern Peru.

Last Monday, Mr Humala responded to the public anger at this and other social and environmental controversies by reshuffling his cabinet for the third time in his term.

He told Congress the government was "aware of the persistence of social discontent and unsatisfied hopes among a sector of the population that wants a better quality of life".

But said that the country needed to "overcome this culture of conflict".

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