January 2, 2018 / 6:09 PM / a year ago

Brazil backs down from naming lawmaker Fernandes as labour minister

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Michel Temer decided not to appoint Congressman Pedro Fernandes as the new labour minister to avoid clashing with former President José Sarney, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Jovair Arantes, the leader of Fernandes’ Brazilian Labour Party in the lower house of Congress, said last week that Fernandes would be tapped as labour minister following Ronaldo Nogueira’s resignation on Wednesday.

But Sarney, a major figure in Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement party, vetoed the nomination due to Fernandes’ connections with Flavio Dino, the governor of Maranhão state and one of Sarney’s political rivals, the two sources said.

In a text message to his peers in the lower house seen by Reuters, Fernandes expressed thanks for the appointment but acknowledged that taking on such a post would create friction between Temer and Sarney.

Reuters phone calls to Fernandes went unanswered.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Richard Chang

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