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Venezuela's president replaces longtime oil chief as part of cabinet shakeup

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Nicolas Maduro has replaced the Venezuela's longtime oil minister and economic czar as part of a cabinet shakeup sidelining the most-prominent voice within his administration for much-needed reforms to address the country's economic crisis.

Rafael Ramirez had served as oil minister and president of the state-run oil giant PDVSA for more than a decade.

Maduro made the announcement Tuesday night as part of a much-anticipated government restructuring. The president named Ramirez the new foreign minister.

Ramirez will be replaced in his previous jobs by lesser-known officials. He was also forced to give up his year-old post as top economic policy maker, from which he had argued for a currency overhaul and unpopular gas price hikes to help Venezuela tackle an economic crisis marked by 60 per cent inflation.

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