Army commander dismisses general's hint at army intervention in Brazil: reports

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s Army commander dismissed a general’s suggestion that members of the Army’s High Command endorse some sort of “military intervention” if high courts fail to stem political corruption, the online services of Brazil’s two biggest newspapers said.

At a gathering of freemasons in Brasília last Friday, General Antonio Hamilton Mourão had suggested his fellows at the High Command think the current timing is not favorable for military intervention but that it could eventually take place through “successive steps,” Folha de S. Paulo said.

“Either institutions sort out the political problem, through the judiciary branch of power and withdrawing from public life all those elements involved in illicit acts, or then we will have to impose that,” Mourão was quoted as saying by O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper on Sunday.

Army Commander Eduardo Villas Bôas dismissed Mourão’s comments by saying there is “no possibility” of a military intervention in Brazil.

Bôas told Estado that since 1985, when a 21-year military dictatorship came to an end, the military was “not responsible for any source of turmoil in the nation’s life, and it will continue to be like that.”

While Mourão, currently the army’s head of finance, hinted that there could come a time when the army would have to impose military action, he said it would not be to take power from civilians, Folha said. An action would aim at “telling people, ‘Beware, let’s fix this now so the country can move forward and not continue the way it is,’” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The army command did not immediately respond to request for comment. Mourão could not be found by Reuters to comment on his remarks.

Mourão, in the army since 1972, was discharged from Brazil’s South Military Command and transferred to the federal capital of Brasília in 2015 for administrative work after publicly criticizing former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff was impeached last year after she was found guilty of doctoring budget accounts. Her fall was accelerated by a three-year corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash, which has ensnared top members of her Workers Party and her ruling coalition in bribery and graft acts.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Bill Trott