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Brazilian Lula dismisses the army chief in the wake of the capital’s uprising

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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Saturday sacked the country’s army chief, Gen. Julio Cesar de Arruda, amid fears of threats to the country’s democracy in the wake of January 8 riots in the capital by supporters of former leader Jair Bolsonaro.

The shooting of Arruda, who had been captain since Dec. 28, was reported by Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper and TV network Globonenews earlier on Saturday. A source said his successor would be General Tomás Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, commander of the army in the southeast.

The Brazilian army and the Ministry of Defense did not immediately comment on the matter.

Lula said this week that the intelligence services failed on January 8, when supporters of former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in Brasilia.

Earlier, Lula said he suspected “members of the armed forces” of complicity in the rebellion, during which several thousand Bolsonaro supporters invaded and ransacked the Congress building, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court.

Arruda attended a meeting with Lula on Friday, accompanied by the commanders of the Navy, Marcos Sampaio Olsen, and the Air Force, Marcelo Canitz-Damaschino.

Defense Minister Jose Museo Montero told reporters after the meeting that the Jan. 8 riots were not the main topic of discussion, but added that any involvement of military personnel in the riots would be punished.

Lula recently said that his government would expel Bolsonaro loyalists from the security forces. However, many of the protesters who rioted in Brasilia called for a military coup to restore Bolsonaro to power.

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