Panama's President Guillermo Endara tore apart his U.S.-backed coalition government Monday, firing five Cabinet ministers that he accused of arrogance and political disloyalty.
The firing of all five Christian Democrats from the 12-man Cabinet strengthened the hand of Endara's own Arnulfista Party and was seen as an attempt to end weeks of bitter infighting."The excessive pride (and) arrogance . . . many Christian Democratic leaders have demonstrated against members of the Arnulfista Party . . . have exceeded all tolerable limits," Endara said in a speech to the country.
"It is impossible to govern with the tranquility and desired dedication under these circumstances," he added.
Without giving specifics, Endara said several recent events had led to a "justified loss of confidence in the discipline, subordination and total loyalty of the Christian Democrats."
The shakeup was the first since Endara was installed during the December 1989 U.S. invasion that ousted military strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega.
The five ministers removed from their posts included Justice Minister Ricardo Arias Calderon, the head of the Christian Democratic Party.
Endara said Arias Calderon would remain first vice president of Panama, a post he ran for as part of the coalition in May 1989 elections that were annulled by Noriega when it appeared the opposition was winning.