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Colombia's Petro denies calling for cabinet resignations

FILE PHOTO: Colombian President Gustavo Petro

By Oliver Griffin and Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Thursday denied asking his cabinet ministers to resign, despite three government sources confirming the request to Reuters and reporting in local media.

Colombian presidents frequently request mass, 'protocol' cabinet resignations in order to make changes to the government, though these are not guaranteed.

The three government sources said had Petro asked for the resignations of his ministers during a meeting on Wednesday evening.

Petro dismissed the reports.

"This is a lie," he said in a message on X, referring to a story about the request.

Rather than the president demanding their resignations, ministers offered to resign, Agriculture Minister Jhenifer Mojica said during a presentation near capital Bogota.

"Regarding the resignations, it really was a general offer from the national government," she said. "We must always be willing to do everything possible to fulfill the government's program."

The director of the national planning department, Jorge Ivan Gonzalez, did submit a resignation letter, but Finance Minister Ricardo Bonilla told journalists it was not connected to any mass resignation.

Petro last called for ministers' resignations in April after a debate on a health reform was abandoned by the lower house of congress.

During the 2023 reshuffle, the president replaced former Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo with Ricardo Bonilla, and also named new interior and health ministers.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin and Luis Jaime Acosta; Additional reporting by Carlos Vargas; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sandra Maler)