BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's 16 cabinet members resigned on Wednesday at President Juan Manuel Santos' request, setting the stage for him to shuffle his cabinet in an attempt to shore up his approval ratings.
At the midpoint of his four-year term, Santos has been under pressure from a constant stream of criticism from former President Alvaro Uribe and a growing number of attacks by leftist rebels, denting his once commanding popularity.
"Upon considering that it is the right time to make changes within the government team, the ministers signed a protocol resignation letter of their posts after the request by President Juan Manuel Santos," his office said in a statement.
The communiqué did not say which of the ministers could move posts or be dismissed.
Some analysts say Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon could be on the list of those leaving the cabinet since a rise in guerrillas assaults, coupled with the perception that security was getting worse, has cut into Santos' popularity and opened him up to political attacks.
Santos - credited with some of the biggest blows to the rebels - accuses foes of using attacks by rebels as a "political weapon" and dismisses claims by Uribe and his followers that he is failing on security.
Once an investment pariah as drug-trafficking insurgents kidnapped, killed and attacked rural areas with bombs, Colombia, Latin America's No. 4 economy, has seen a dramatic turnaround in the last decade, attracting record foreign investment. (Reporting by Jack Kimball and Monica Garcia; editing by Mohammad Zargham)