Brazilian defence minister quits as government comes under pressure

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dpatop - June 17, 2020, SaO Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil: S÷O PAULO, BRASIL - 17 DE JUNHO: A view of a wall with a graffiti depicting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and a figure representing the coronavirus in a tug of war against health workers with a phrase that reads in portuguese ''Which side of the rope are you on?'' amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 17, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Credit Image: © Cris Faga/ZUMA Wire Photo: Cris Faga/ZUMA Wire/dpa
dpatop - June 17, 2020, SaO Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil: S÷O PAULO, BRASIL - 17 DE JUNHO: A view of a wall with a graffiti depicting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and a figure representing the coronavirus in a tug of war against health workers with a phrase that reads in portuguese ''Which side of the rope are you on?'' amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 17, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Credit Image: © Cris Faga/ZUMA Wire Photo: Cris Faga/ZUMA Wire/dpa

dpa/GNA – Brazilian Defence Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva resigned unexpectedly, according to media reports on Monday as the government of right-wing populist leader Jair Bolosonaro comes under pressure over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brazilian media like the news portal G1 and the Folha de S. Paulo said the minister was forced to step aside amid pressure from Bolsonaro, who decided to reshuffle his cabinet. He replaced a total of six ministers.

Earlier Monday broadcaster TV Globo had already reported the resignation of Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, who had come under fire for a lack of coronavirus crisis management.

Araujo has been accused, among other things, of having isolated Brazil on the international stage and placing the country in a poor position to purchase vaccines.

The ousted Azevedo e Silva was the second military man in recent years to serve as defence minister. Bolsonaro said he will be replaced by General Walter Souza Braga Netto.

While Bolsonaro repeatedly made statements that suggested a potential break with democracy might be possible and took part in anti-democratic acts in Brasilia, Azevedo was considered discreet and prudent.

He distanced himself when Bolsonaro spoke of the use of “gunpowder” to defend the Amazon amid conflict over rampant deforestation in the region.

Last week Brazil – a country of 210 million people – surpassed the grim milestone of 3,000 Covid-19 related deaths over 24 hours.

The full death toll in the country now stands at more than 313,800, with more than 12.5 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. Only the United States has recorded higher figures.
The health system has collapsed or is on the verge of collapse in many areas.

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