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Brazil: Lula dismisses 40 residence guards after riots

January 18, 2023

The Brazilian president has ordered a thorough review of staff at the Planalto presidential palace. He believes security forces at the Planalto may have helped Bolsonaro supporters recently raid the building in Brasilia.

 Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, outside Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023.
Lula has hinted that security forces were complicit in the Brasilia riots by failing to stop the unrestImage: UESLEI MARCELINO/REUTERS

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ordered on Tuesday the removal of 40 soldiers guarding the presidential residence, after outspokenly criticizing the military for failing to act against rioters who raided Brasilia's seats of power on January 8.

Thousands of supporters of former far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who lost last year's election to leftist Lula by a thin margin, stormed the Brazilian Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace on January 8, calling for a military coup.

The rioters left a trail of destruction in scenes that echoed the 2021 US Capitol breach by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Why does Lula mistrust the military?

The Brazilian president has ordered a thorough review of the staff. After the raids, Lula suggested that security force members were complicit in allowing the attack.

The Planalto presidential residence is mostly guarded by army soldiers, with others hailing from the Navy, Air Force and a militarized police force.

An investigation into the events that led up to the rampage shows what appear to be intentional lapses in security, which made the raids possible.

Brazil's Lula vows justice for capital attack

Lula said on Tuesday that he believed the door to the Planalto palace "was opened for people to enter because there are no broken doors."

Supporters of the former president refuse to accept that Bolsonaro lost his bid for reelection, claiming the election was stolen.

Bolsonaro, who left Brazil for the US state of Florida on the second-to-last day of his term, is being investigated on suspicion of fueling the raids.

He has rejected the accusation that he had spurred on the protesters. He said peaceful demonstrations were democratic but the assault on government buildings had "crossed the line."

rmt/wd (AFP, Reuters)