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Brazil's former president Lula named cabinet member

Updated: 2016-03-17 11:06

Brazil's former president Lula named cabinet member

Image taken on March 5, 2016 shows Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (C) and Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (R) during her visit to Lula da Silva's residence, in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been named chief of staff for President Dilma Rousseff's cabinet, government officials said on Wednesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

BRASILIA - Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been named chief of staff for President Dilma Rousseff's cabinet, the president said on Wednesday.

At a press conference held hours after the nomination was announced, Rousseff said she was seeking economic balance and control of inflation with this move.

"The arrival of President Lula da Silva to this ministry is important and relevant. First of all, he brings invaluable political experience. Second, he has deep knowledge of the country's needs and a commitment to the strategic policies we need to take," she added.

Rousseff vowed on Wednesday that the appointment would bring Lula's experience and political knowledge to the government.

She also confirmed that the former president will seek to bring financial stability to Brazil, "a compromise ... which he acted upon during the eight years of his government."

The position of chief of staff in Brazil is the most important in the cabinet, tasked with keeping all policy matters on track.

Lula will replace Jaques Wagner, who will now lead Rousseff's group of political advisors. Lula will also be responsible for coordinating the Economic and Social Development Council and for heading up relations with Congress.

This move comes amid mounting legal worries for Lula as he is facing charged of money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Last week, a Sao Paulo judge handed over Lula's case to federal judge Sergio Moro, who is overseeing the sweeping corruption investigation into Petrobras.

However, the position of chief of staff confers upon Lula immunity from all prosecution, except from the Supreme Court, which is seen as favorable to Lula and Rousseff's ruling Workers' Party.

Asked whether Lula entered the cabinet to gain protection from corruption charges against him, Rousseff said such accusations sought to attack the Supreme Court, which is the only court able to judge current cabinet members.

She added that the accusations against Lula were "strange," since "no evidence has been found against him. Let us tell the truth: Lula's arrival in my government strengthens my government and some do not want that to happen."

Ronaldo Caiado, leader in the Senate for the Democrats Party, lambasted Lula and said the former head of state was "trying to hide" and that nobody from his party would now deal with Rousseff's government, O Globo newspaper reported.

Renan Calheiros, Senate leader for the PMDB, the Workers' Party main ally in the government, told the press that Lula enjoyed good relations with Congress but that it could not be said if this move would help to resolve Brazil's political crisis.

Calheiros was set to meet with Lula on Wednesday afternoon.

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