- The Peruvian president sacked 30 out of 55 police generals
- The new chief says corruption will not be tolerated
- The move was about reorganization, the interior minister says
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has removed 30 of 55 generals in the national police, the largest such purge in the institution's history.
The forced retirements, which were announced in the official gazette over the weekend, are widely seen as an attempt by Humala to combat corruption.
Among those forced out was the head of the national police.
The new head of the police, Raul Salazar, mentioned the need to fight corruption no less than six times during a speech at his induction ceremony.
"We have to uncover any act of corruption that stains the name of the police. From the most minimal to the most important, it doesn't matter, same if one sol or more are stolen," he said, referring to Peru's currency.
In a separate interview on the state broadcaster Tuesday, Salazar said that fighting drug trafficking would remain a priority.
The move means that until new generals are named, many regions in Peru, including many in the interior of the country, will be led by colonels instead of generals, something that opposition politicians have criticized.
Critics also voiced concerns that the move was a ploy by Humala, as a new president, to place commanders loyal to him in the top posts.
His interior minister, Oscar Valdes, said Tuesday that the retirements had to do with a reorganization of a bloated institution, the state-run Andina news agency reported.
"This is a studied measure, it is a re-engineering of the police," he said. "It's not possible that the police has so many generals."
Before the purge, the police had 55 generals, 900 colonels, and more than 2,000 commanders, he said.