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UPDATE 1-Brazil's Bolsonaro taps astronaut and judge for slimmed down cabinet


Reuters
Updated: 01-11-2018 03:37 IST
Brazil's far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro set about staffing up his new administration on Wednesday, naming an astronaut as science minister as a top anti-corruption judge mulled a job offer.

Bolsonaro won the presidential race on Sunday, easily overcoming his leftist opponent with a vow to kneecap violent drug gangs and end years of political graft. He has also said he wants to roughly halve the size of the presidential cabinet.

Bolsonaro, who nearly died from a stab wound while campaigning last month, donned a bulletproof vest on Wednesday and headed to the beach in Rio de Janeiro to attend an acrobatic air show in his honor.

The former army captain said on Twitter that Marcos Pontes, a Brazilian astronaut who was the country's first person in space, would be his science and technology minister.

A full cabinet will be announced next month, Bolsonaro's future chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni said in a private meeting, according to two people who heard the remarks.

On Thursday, Bolsonaro is due to meet with crusading anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro, who led the so-called "Car Wash" probe snaring big names in Brazil's political class and opening the door for Bolsonaro's tough-on-corruption campaign.

Bolsonaro has previously said he wants Moro to serve as his justice minister and eventually join the Supreme Court. The court's next vacancy is expected in 2020.

A columnist for Estado de S. Paulo reported on Wednesday that Moro will accept an offer from Bolsonaro to run the justice ministry with expanded powers over corruption and public safety, without citing a source.

However, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Moro had not yet made up his mind.

A third person said his conditions included the passage of new anti-corruption legislation and expansion of the justice ministry's responsibilities to include the federal police and the auditing office that roots out graft in the federal budget.

Moro, who oversaw graft investigations culminating with a 12-year bribery and money laundering sentence for leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been cautious in public statements.

"In the event I'm indeed offered a post, it will be subject to a balanced discussion and reflection," Moro said in a statement on Tuesday.

As part of his drive to slim down government, Bolsonaro has proposed combining three existing ministries into the portfolio of his chief economic adviser and folding together the ministries of agriculture and environment.

The first idea has faced resistance from industrial leaders and the latter has been criticized by the outgoing heads of the ministries.

"How will a minister of agriculture comment on an oil field or mineral exploration?" current Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said in a statement.

Current Environment Minister Edson Duarte released a statement warning the move could "overload the ministry with so many and such varied agendas it would threaten Brazil's role in global decision-making forums." (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro, Ricardo Brito and Jake Spring in Brasilia and Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo Writing and additional reporting by Gabriel Stargardter and Marcelo Rochabrun; editing by Brad Haynes and Rosalba O'Brien)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)