Tags: brazilian | official | resign | sports | minister | olympics

Brazilian Official Resigns: General Subs as Sports Minister Just 4 Months Before Olympics

Brazilian Official Resigns: General Subs as Sports Minister Just 4 Months Before Olympics
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 01 April 2016 10:49 AM

Just four month before Brazil hosts the Olympics, the country's sports minister is stepping down and will be temporarily replaced by a top military official, said the office of embattled President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff's office announced late Wednesday that George Hilton had asked to leave the position and would be temporarily replaced by a top ministry official, reported The Associated Press.

His departure capped weeks of confusion about whether he would stay on as minister. Hilton left his party after it pulled out of Rousseff's fragile governing coalition this month, in an apparent bid to hold onto his job. But a top Rousseff aide said last week that Hilton would resign, although his ministry declined to confirm it at the time, said the AP

Until Rousseff's announcement on Wednesday about a military official stepping in, it was though Hilton would likely be replaced by Ricardo Leyser, a senior official in the sports ministry who has been managing Olympic preparations, according to Reuters.

Hilton's departure is a sign of how the fallout from Brazil's spiraling political crisis could affect the country's preparations for South America's first Olympics in August.

Appointed in January 2015, Hilton had been criticized for an apparent lack of sporting experience. In his acceptance speech he said, "I may not profoundly understand sport, but I understand people, I know how to listen."

Leyser has been responsible for coordinating the organization of Rio 2016 Olympic Games within the ministry. Except for a brief six-month hiatus, he has been the ministry's secretary for professional sport since 2009, said Reuters. 

The AP said the political back-and-forth also affects six other Cabinet positions held by members of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, known by the Portuguese initials PMDB, which decamped from Rousseff's coalition on Tuesday. Party leaders said all their Cabinet ministers, as well as hundreds of other federal government employees, would have to resign immediately.

But Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu said on Twitter late Wednesday that she didn't plan on leaving either the government or the party. Her tweet suggested the other five PMDB Cabinet ministers held the same stand.

Abreu is a close confident of Rousseff.

It wasn't immediately clear how the PMDB – Brazil's largest party – would respond to the minister's defiance.

Brazilian news media have suggested Rousseff planned to offer the vacated ministries to the six smaller parties that remain in her coalition in a bid to help her secure their support in an upcoming Congressional vote on impeachment proceedings against her. Rousseff faces impeachment on charges she violated fiscal rules and needs 172 out of 513 votes in the lower house to bury the proceedings.

But the defection of the PMDB, which has been a key part of the governing coalitions since Brazil emerged from military dictatorship in 1985, appears to have made it more difficult for her to avoid impeachment.

Rousseff's approval rating has plummeted amid the worst recession in decades, rising unemployment and an outbreak of the Zika virus, which has been linked to a spike in cases of a rare birth defect.

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Just four month before Brazil hosts the Olympics, the country's sports minister is stepping down and will be temporarily replaced by a top military official, said the office of embattled President Dilma Rousseff.
brazilian, official, resign, sports, minister, olympics
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2016-49-01
Friday, 01 April 2016 10:49 AM
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