March 31, 2016 / 6:07 PM / 4 years ago

Brazil security official steps down ahead of Rio Olympics

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks as she announces the third tranche of a government housing program at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The commander of a Brazilian security force involved in preparations for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has stepped down amid reports that he criticized embattled President Dilma Rousseff in a message to subordinates.

The commander, Colonel Adilson Moreira, resigned earlier this week, Brazil’s Justice Ministry said on Thursday. He headed the National Force for Public Security, a body of police and other law enforcement officials.

The force’s members will be deployed around sporting venues used during the Olympic Games, which start Aug. 5, and represent about 10 percent of the more than 80,000 police, soldiers and other security personnel that will be in place for the event.

Moreira’s departure, as the government struggles with an economic recession and impeachment proceedings against Rousseff, is the latest in a series of high-profile changes in the ranks of officials involved in operational and security preparations for the Olympics.

On Wednesday, the presidency confirmed that Brazil’s sports minister, George Hilton, also stepped down. Hilton’s departure stemmed from fraying political alliances in Rousseff’s governing coalition, part of the broader chaos enveloping her administration.

The Justice Ministry did not give any reason for Moreira’s departure. But O Estado de S. Paulo, a major newspaper, said the colonel had sent an email to subordinates criticizing Rousseff and other senior officials.

Brazilian officials on Thursday said planning for the Olympics is well advanced and would not be affected by any personnel changes.

“Instability, political turbulence and economic difficulties are bad and they can generate uncertainty, but people should know that our security operations involve more than 80,000 people,” said Andrei Rodrigues, who heads a special government agency that oversees major events.

“There is no reason to worry,” he said.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Paulo Prada; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Tom Brown

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