Costa Rica cabinet-members line up for positions on Chinchilla’s campaign

July 31, 2009

Three top officials in President Oscar Arias´ cabinet will announce their resignation Wednesday to pursue a position with presidential frontrunner Laura Chinchilla, according to Minister to the Presidency Rodrigo Arias.

Under Costa Rican election rules, those serving in political office are not permitted to work on a campaign unless they step down six months before the election.

Labor Minister Francisco Morales, Treasury Minister Guillermo Zúñiga and Justice Minister Viviana Martín all indicated their desire to join Chinchilla for the February election.

Vice President Roberto Thompson, who shared the vice presidency with Laura Chinchilla less than a year ago, and Tourism Minister Carlos Ricardo Benavides have also shown an interest.

With so many of Arias´ appointees and staffers leaving to join Chinchilla, political analysts say it´s just another signal that the frontrunner is positioning her campaign on the back of Arias´ success.

“The message she has shown is that it´s going to be a continuation,” said Fernando Zeledón, a political science professor at the University of Costa Rica. “But that will become clearer in the points and actions of a government plan.”

Asked whether the resignations of the ministers will hinder the work of the Arias administration in its remaining eight months, Zeledón said it would have a small impact, but each minister carries behind him or her a team who knows how to step in.

At Monday morning´s announcement, Rodrigo Arias said, “The departure of a minister always has an effect.”

As far as their replacements, he said it was too early to give any names but he added, “We will choose capable and well-prepared people so there will be enough time to continue to move the work of the government forward without problems.”

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