Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Friday named new defense, interior and education ministers. In a surprise announcement, Zapatero said Jose Antonio Alonso would replace Jose Bono at defense, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba would take over the interior ministry from Alonso and Mercedes Cabrera Calvo-Sotelo would replace Maria Jesus San Segundo in education.
The cabinet shuffle was the first since Zapatero and the Socialist party took office following elections March 14, 2004 . Zapatero said he had informed King Juan Carlos of the changes prior to holding a news conference.
The Socialist leader said Bono had asked to step down from defense some time ago. Bono oversaw the withdrawal of Spain 's troops from Iraq , a controversial decision taken by the Zapatero government as soon as it was elected. Zapatero said he would work to see that Bono did not retire altogether from politics. It was not immediately known why Bono had asked to leave the post. Until now, Rubalcaba had acted as the Socialist Party's spokesman in parliament, reports the AP.