Brazil names new agriculture, labor and aviation ministers

BRASILIA Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:07pm EDT

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff appointed new ministers for agriculture, civil aviation and labor on Friday, the presidential office said, in a Cabinet shuffle that left her economic team intact.

Congressman Antonio Andrade from Minas Gerais state was named agriculture minister, replacing Mendes Ribeiro, who is recovering from brain tumor surgery. Both men belong to the PMDB, Brazil's largest political party and Rousseff's main ally in her unwieldy 17-party governing coalition.

Moreira Franco, until now secretary of strategic affairs, was moved to the civil aviation portfolio, replacing Wagner Bittencourt.

That switch came after criticism of last year's auction of private concessions to run three major airports, including the country's largest in Sao Paulo, which drew smaller and less experienced consortia than the government had hoped for.

Manoel Dias, the secretary general of the PDT party, a minor coalition partner and the party where Rousseff began her political career, will move to the Labor Ministry, replacing Brizola Neto from the same party.

Despite her government's failure to restore solid growth to Brazil's once-booming economy, which grew by a disappointing 0.9 percent last year, Rousseff did not make changes to the economic team headed by Finance Minister Guido Mantega.

Other Cabinet changes are in the works, and Rousseff is expected to name an ally to the newly created ministry of small and micro businesses.

Rousseff, whose approval rating is in the high 70s, plans to run for re-election in 2014 and Cabinet appointments provide an opportunity to appease coalition allies jostling for government posts.

(Reporting by Jeferson Ribeiro; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Peter Murphy and David Brunnstrom)

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