Brazilian military leaders step down as Covid-19 pandemic puts pressure on government

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Brazilian military leaders step down as Covid-19 pandemic puts pressure on government


SÃO PAULO – Brazilian military, navy and air force chiefs resigned on Tuesday, shaking a right-wing government that is already facing public fury over President Jair Bolsonaro’s inability to contain the pandemic of rapidly spreading coronavirus.
Brazil’s defense ministry said the three commanders would be replaced, without giving more information. A person close to the ministry said the men had resigned.
The announcement came a day after Mr Bolsonaro replaced six members of his cabinet, including a surprise decision to dismiss the defense minister. Political analysts said the dismissal of Fernando Azevedo e Silva, a highly respected former army general in the military, likely triggered the departure of Army Chief Edson Pujol, Navy Chief Ilques Barbosa and Air Force Chief Antônio Carlos Moretti Bermudez.
Mr Bolsonaro has faced stiff criticism for his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 314,000 people here. With a new, more infectious variant of the coronavirus spreading, around 100 Brazilians die from the disease every hour, the highest death toll in the world.
Tensions between the military and Mr Bolsonaro, a former right-wing army captain who served under the Brazilian dictatorship from 1964-1985, have escalated in recent months as the president increasingly calls on the armed forces to support it politically.

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