Brazil’s Lula fires army chief after pro-Bolsonaro riots


Julio Cesar de Arruda’s resignation comes shortly after Lula removed dozens of soldiers from his security team.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has sacked the country’s army chief General Julio Cesar de Arruda after the storming of several government buildings by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula did not immediately release a statement about the replacement, but the official website of the Brazilian Armed Forces said General Julio Cesar de Arruda had been removed as head of the army. The AFP and Reuters news agencies also reported on the dismissal, citing military sources.

Arruda was replaced by General Tomas Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, who had been head of the Southeastern Military Command.

The move comes weeks after Bolsonaro supporters stormed the National Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court in Brasilia on January 8.

In the immediate aftermath of the riots, Lula said he suspected conspiracy by “people in the armed forces”.

More recently, the left-wing Brazilian leader said his government would purge hard-core Bolsonaro loyalists from the security forces. He also removed several dozen soldiers from his security detail after the unrest.

To date, more than 2,000 people have been arrested in connection with the riots. A Brazil Supreme Court judge has also authorized Bolsonaro to be added to his investigation into who caused the unrest.

Bolsonaro, a retired military officer, maintained close ties to the armed forces during his presidency.

Arruda attended a meeting with Lula on Friday, accompanied by Navy Commanders Marcos Sampaio Olsen and Air Force Commanders Marcelo Kanitz Damasceno.

Defense Minister Jose Mucio Monteiro told reporters after the meeting that the country’s armed forces were not directly involved in the riots, but added that all military personnel involved would have to answer as civilians.

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