Lula Fires Brazil’s Army Chief Arruda After Riots in Capital

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva dismissed the nation’s top army commander on Saturday, two weeks after rioters stormed public buildings in the capital, Brasilia.

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Julio Cesar de Arruda will be replaced by Tomas Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, currently chief of the army in the country’s southeast region, Defense Minister Jose Mucio said at a briefing Saturday. The government’s relationship with the Brazil army leadership “suffered a fracture in the level of trust” after rioters’ recent acts, Mucio said.

New commander Paiva released a video on the Southeast Region Command’s official YouTube channel on Friday in which he said presidential election results should be respected.

The decision to replace Arruda was made one day after Lula met with him and other armed forces commanders in Brasilia. The president is looking to punish people he believes failed to stop the Jan. 8 riots, even at the risk of ruining an already-fragile relationship with the military.

Read more: Lula’s Ties With Military Are Strained by Crackdown on Rioters

The dismissal contrasts with the softer approach adopted by Mucio, who talked about “turning the page” on the riots. The defense minister told journalists after Friday’s meeting that Lula believed in the work of armed forces commanders.

(Updates with minister confirming the change of army commander in second paragraph.)

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