Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro appointed retired army General Fernando Azevedo e Silva as defense minister on Tuesday, adding another former military officer to his cabinet while saying that a career foreign service officer may get the top diplomat's job.
Azevedo belongs to a group of retired army generals who backed the presidential bid of Bolsonaro, a far-right politician and former army captain, in the name of fighting Brazil's endemic political corruption and violent crime.
Bolsonaro has vowed to respect the Constitution and democratic rule. But the backing for him from military brass, and the number of former officers in Bolsonaro's cabinet, have raised concerns about a potential outsized role for the armed forces in Brazil's government. It spent more than three decades out of the political limelight since the country's 1964-1985 military dictatorship.
The group of former top military brass is headed by retired five-star General Augusto Heleno, who Bolsonaro had originally named as defense minister. Last week he decided to make Heleno the head of the presidential office for national security.
Azevedo, a four-star general, was Bolsonaro's contemporary at the Black Needles military academy, Brazil's West Point, where they both trained as paratroopers.
While Bolsonaro was discharged from the army as a low-ranking officer, Azevedo went on to become the commander of Brazil's paratrooper brigade. He also served as operations chief of the Brazilian-led United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti when it was under Heleno's command.
Azevedo retired as army chief of staff in August and has since been a special adviser to Chief Justice Dias Toffoli at the Supreme Court.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Bolsonaro also said that diplomat Luis Fernando Serra was one of the candidates to run the foreign ministry. Serra's most recent posting was as ambassador to South Korea.
Bolsonaro, who nearly died from a stab wound received on the campaign trail, added that he would likely to skip the G20 diplomatic summit in Argentina at the end of the month due to his poor health.