Brazil's Lula gives Marina Silva, Simone Tebet key cabinet roles
By Lisandra Paraguassu and Gabriel Araujo
BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday announced a final batch of 16 cabinet members ahead of his Jan. 1 inauguration, including some allies outside of his leftist Workers Party as he seeks to build a broader coalition.
The latest nominations came after weeks of talks involving leftist allies and centrist parties expected to provide the president-elect support in Congress, where his leftist coalition is in the minority.
Some expected he would also announce the next chief executives of state-run oil giant Petrobras and lender Banco do Brasil, but he did not, saying instead the new head of the bank would be a woman.
Among Thursday's highlights were Marina Silva for environment minister and Senator Simone Tebet as planning and budget minister.
Lula gave them key positions after they provided crucial endorsements for his narrow Oct. 30 election victory over outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro.
One of Brazil's best-known environmentalists, Silva previously held the same ministerial position for five years during Lula's first term as president, overseeing a significant drop in deforestation.
She will now have to tackle that same task again, helping Lula fulfill a campaign pledge after Amazon deforestation reached a 15-year high under Bolsonaro, who loosened environmental protections during his period in office.
"She is the best name to restore the country's environmental governance," environmental advocacy group Climate Observatory said in a statement, adding Silva would "recover Brazil's image and help in the transition to a new development model."
SWINGING TO THE CENTER
Senator Tebet backed Lula after ditching her own presidential bid when she failed to make the run-off, helping him move closer to the center by securing moderate votes in the second round.
"She played an extremely important role in the campaign," Lula said of Tebet, who will oversee Brazil's budget and set up a multiannual plan with goals for the administration. "She was our rival in the first round but an extraordinary ally in the run-off".
Investors are seen welcoming her nomination as she supported all major economic reforms passed by Congress in recent years.
Lula, who had previously disclosed 21 of the future ministers, also tapped other moderate figures to his cabinet in order to secure support in Congress. Almost one third of the cabinet will be members of his Workers Party.
The center-right Union Brazil party, the centrist Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Tebet's Brazilian Democratic Movement were given three positions each.
Union Brazil's Daniela Carneiro, the most voted lower house candidate in the state of Rio de Janeiro, was appointed tourism minister.
The PSD positions, meanwhile, included the key agriculture and mines and energy ministries, which were given to lawmakers Carlos Favaro and Alexandre Silveira, respectively.
After the announcement, Favaro said his top priorities would be ending illegal deforestation, which he said was "threatening agribusiness with death," and recovering degraded pastures.
(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Richard Chang and Aurora Ellis)