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UPDATE 1-Brazil's Bolsonaro picks Army general as defense minister

Updated: 13-11-2018 18:38 IST
Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro appointed retired Army General Fernando Azevedo e Silva as defense minister on Tuesday, adding another former military officer to his cabinet, which takes office on Jan. 1.

Bolsonaro, a far-right politician and former Army captain who was elected last month on a law-and-order and anti-corruption platform, announced the choice on Twitter.

Azevedo, a four-star general, retired as Army chief of staff at the end of August and has since been a special adviser to Chief Justice Dias Toffoli at the Supreme Court.

Azevedo belongs to a group of retired Army generals who backed Bolsonaro's presidential bid in the name of fighting Brazil's endemic political corruption.

The group of former top brass is headed by retired five-star General Augusto Heleno, whom Bolsonaro had originally named as defense minister. Last week he opted to make Heleno his national security adviser.

Bolsonaro is expected to name another member of the group, retired General Oswaldo Ferreira, a former head of the Army engineers corps, as his transportation minister in charge of improving Brazil's anemic national infrastructure.

The backing from military brass and the number of former officers in Bolsonaro's cabinet have raised concerns about the outsized role of the armed forces in Brazil's government. Bolsonaro has vowed to respect the constitution and democratic institutions.

Bolsonaro's vice president-elect is retired General Hamilton Mourao, who was removed from command in 2015 and given a staff job for criticizing the leftist Workers Party government at the time. He later offered a public defense of military intervention if the courts failed to punish corrupt politicians.

Bolsonaro has suggested the Army will play a role in backing up state police as part of a crackdown on violent crime and drug gangs that he promised while campaigning. (Reporting by Gram Slattery Writing by Anthony Boadle Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Steve Orlofsky)

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