An agent walks past the head of a statue depicting the Greek goddess Themis, outside the Brazilian Supreme Court building that was damaged by supporters of Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasilia (Eraldo Peres/AP)
21 January 2023

Brazil’s army chief sacked in aftermath of capital uprising

21 January 2023

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has sacked Brazil’s army chief amid concerns over threats to the country’s democracy following the January 8 uprising in the capital by far-right protesters.

The official website of the Brazilian armed forces said General Julio Cesar de Arruda had been removed as head of the army.

He was replaced by General Tomas Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, who was head of the Southeast Military Command.

In recent weeks, the military has been targeted by Mr Lula after supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed through government buildings and destroyed public property.

Mr Lula said several times in public that there were definitely people in the army who allowed the rioting to occur.

Rioters who stormed through the Brazilian Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court in Brasilia sought to have the military intervene and overturn Mr Bolsonaro’s loss to Mr Lula in the presidential election.

More than a thousand people were arrested on the day of the riot, which bore strong similarities to the January 6 2021 riots at the US Congress by mobs who wanted to overturn former president Donald Trump’s election loss.

Mr Lula met Defence Minister Jose Mucio, chief of staff Rui Costa and the new army commander in Brasilia later on Saturday.

Speaking to journalists afterwards, Mr Mucio said the January 8 riots had caused “a fracture in the level of trust” in the army’s top levels and the government decided a change was needed.

A Brazilian Supreme Court justice earlier this month authorised adding Mr Bolsonaro in its investigation into who incited the rioting in Brasilia as part of a broader crackdown to hold responsible parties to account.

According to the text of his ruling, Justice Alexandre de Moraes granted the request from the prosecutor-general’s office, which cited a video that Mr Bolsonaro posted on Facebook two days after the riot.

The video claimed Mr Lula was not voted into office, but rather was chosen by the Supreme Court and Brazil’s electoral authority.

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