Lula fires Brazilian army chief

Brasilia, Jan 21 (EFE).- President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva fired the commander of Brazil’s army Saturday in yet another repercussion from the Jan. 8 riot in this capital by supporters of right-wing former head of state Jair Bolsonaro, media outlets said.

Gen. Julio Cesar de Arruda, 63, spent less than a month in the job, as he was appointed during the final weeks of the Bolsonaro administration.

Bolsonaro has yet to acknowledge his defeat to Lula, a former two-term president, in the Oct. 30 election, and is suspected of instigating the violence in Brasilia, which came a week after the new administration took office and nine days after the outgoing head of state left for the United States, where he remains.

Arruda was informed of his dismissal Saturday, Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.

On Friday, Arruda and his counterparts from the navy and air force met with Lula and Defense Minister Jose Mucio Monteiro, who told reporters afterward that the armed forces will forestall any repetition of the events that unfolded here Jan. 8, when thousands of Bolsonaro partisans vandalized Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace.

“Don’t have the slightest doubt,” Mucio said.

But according to Folha, Lula perceived Arruda as unwilling to take “immediate” steps to address the president’s concerns about possible disloyalty among members of the armed forces.

Bolsonaro is an outspoken admirer of Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime, while Lula – as leader of the autoworkers union – was a prominent figure of the resistance to rule by the generals.

Last week during a breakfast gathering with journalists, Lula, 77, said that many police and military personnel “connived” with the rioters on Jan. 8.

The army is responsible for security at the presidential palace and Lula said he was convinced that someone inside the building “facilitated” the entry of the rioters.

Besides trashing the palace, the invaders stole computers, hard drives and files, suggesting that at least some of the rioters were acting on the basis of a plan.

In an interview Wednesday with GloboNews, Lula blasted the military and police intelligence bureaus for failing to give advance warning of what the president describes as an attempted coup.

Arruda is to be replaced by Gen. Tomas Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, currently in command of the Southeast military district, who earlier this week took the opportunity of a military ceremony to deliver a strong defense of Brazil’s democratic order.

Lula’s Workers Party had moderated from militantly socialist to center-left by the time he reached the presidency in 2003 and he enjoyed good relations with the armed forces throughout his first two terms. EFE cms/dr

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