Brazilian army exonerates general criticized for appearance with Bolsonaro

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Brazil's President Bolsonaro and former Health Minister Pazuello attend a rally in Rio de Janeiro

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Eduardo Pazuello, a Brazilian army general who rankled feathers among many officials and fellow military officials for appearing at a campaign rally with President Jair Bolsonaro, will not be disciplined, the army said in a Thursday statement.

Pazuello appeared at a political rally for Bolsonaro in May, where he spoke with the right-wing leader's arm draped over his shoulder. The incident alarmed many given Bolsonaro's open nostalgia for the nation's 1964 to 1985 military dictatorship and his cozy relationship with some elements of the armed forces, many members of which hold key positions in his government.

Army Chief Paulo Sergio Nogueira de Oliveira, himself appointed by Bolsonaro in March, made the decision to absolve Pazuello of wrongdoing in an internal military proceeding.

"Regarding the participation of General Eduardo Pazuello in an event carried out in the city of Rio de Janeiro, on May 23, 2021, the Army Communications Center informs that the commander of the army analyzed and took in the arguments presented in written form and orally by the official in question," the army said in the statement.

"During this process, the existence of a disciplinary transgression by General Pazuello was not established."

Pazuello was also Brazil's health minister from September until late March. On Tuesday, he was nominated by Bolsonaro to a cabinet position within Brazil's Secretariat of Strategic Affairs.

(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marello; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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