Brazil military chiefs resign in new crisis for Bolsonaro

Brazil military chiefs resign in new crisis for Bolsonaro

The heads of Brazil’s army, navy and air force have all resigned as President Jair Bolsonaro struggles to contain a crisis over his leadership.

The defence chiefs are reported to have stepped down in protest at what they see as an attempt by Mr Bolsonaro to exert undue control over the military.

On Monday, the president was forced to reshuffle his cabinet after his foreign and defence ministers both quit.

Mr Bolsonaro’s popularity has plummeted over his response to Covid-19.

Brazil’s far-right president, who came to power two years ago, has consistently opposed quarantine measures, arguing that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the coronavirus itself.

He has also told Brazilians to “stop whining” about the situation. Nearly 314,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Brazil, with more than 12.5 million confirmed cases.

How serious is this for Bolsonaro?

It is reportedly the first time in Brazilian history that the chiefs of the army, navy and air force have stood down together over a disagreement with the president.

The three men – Gen Edson Leal Pujol, Adm Ilques Barbosa and Lt Brig Antonio Carlos Bermudez – resigned on Tuesday, a day after the president’s loyal Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo was forced to quit following heavy criticism by lawmakers.

Mr Araújo was accused of poorly handling relations with China, India and the US, which lawmakers said resulted in Brazil having insufficient quantities of Covid-19 vaccine.

Defence Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva then quickly followed suit, prompting a cabinet reshuffle. The defence minister clashed with Mr Bolsonaro over loyalty of the armed forces, which he said should be directed to upholding the constitution rather than supporting the president personally.

The BBC’s Latin America correspondent, Will Grant, says Mr Bolsonaro is now facing his biggest political crisis since taking office in January 2019.

Combined with his mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, our correspondent adds, the pressure on the right-wing leader has ramped up significantly in recent weeks.

News Source: BBC News

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