Brazil cabinet minister quits

February 3rd, 2012 - 11:45 am ICT by IANS  

Brasilia, Feb 3 (IANS/EFE) Brazil’s urban affairs minister resigned Thursday amid allegations of corruption, becoming the seventh member of President Dilma Rousseff’s cabinet to step down under fire since she took office 13 months ago.

Mario Negromonte, 61, has been the target since December of press accounts denouncing alleged irregularities in his management of infrastructure projects linked to the 2014 soccer World Cup, which Brazil is hosting.

Summoned by a congressional committee, he denied any wrongdoing and said the purported irregularities were under investigation, suggesting that he was the victim of a smear campaign in the media.

Similar defenses were offered by the erstwhile ministers of transport, agriculture, tourism, sport and labour, as well as by Rousseff’s former chief of staff, before they fell like dominoes during the second half of 2011.

Rousseff accepted Negromonte’s resignation early Thursday, shortly after her return from official visits to Cuba and Haiti.

Excluding Negromonte and former tourism minister Pedro Novais, all of the cabinet members forced out by corruption accusations were veterans of the 2003-11 government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Rousseff’s mentor.

The incumbent has lost two other top aides for reasons unrelated to corruption. Defense Minister Nelson Jobim quit last year over policy differences, while education chief Fernando Haddad departed in January to run for mayor of Sao Paulo.

The new urban affairs minister will be lawmaker Aguinaldo Ribeiro, like Negromonte, a member of the conservative PP party, Rousseff said in a statement.

Ribeiro, a 52-year-old engineer, is seen more as a technocrat than a politician.

–IANS/EFE
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