Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inacio Lula da SilvaREUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Saturday fired Brazil’s army chief in wake of the January 8 uprising in the capital by supporters of former President Jair Bolosnaro, The Associated Press reported.

The official website of the Brazilian armed forces said Gen. Julio Cesar de Arruda had been removed as head of the army. He was replaced by Gen. Tomás Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, who was head of the Southeast Military Command.

Lula, who did not comment publicly on the firing, met with Defense Minister Jose Mucio, chief of staff Rui Costa and the new army commander in Brasilia at the end of the day, according to AP. Speaking to journalists afterward, Mucio said the Jan. 8 riots had caused “a fracture in the level of trust” in the army’s top levels and the government decided a change was needed.

In recent weeks, Lula targeted the military with criticism after Bolsonaro supporters stormed through government buildings and destroyed public property in an attempt to keep Bolsonaro in office. At least 200 supporters of Bolsonaro were arrested after security forces in Brazil regained control of the buildings that were stormed.

Da Silva said following the incident that the perpetrators will be found and punished, adding there was "no precedent in the history of our country" for the scenes seen at Congress and at the Supreme Court.

He called the violence the "acts of vandals and fascists".

Bolsonaro condemned the "pillaging and invasions of public buildings", but also rejected what he called da Silva's "baseless" accusations that he incited the invasion of the seat of power in Brasilia.

Supporters of Bolsonaro have claimed the election was stolen. Hardcore supporters have even openly called for a military coup in order to put him back in charge, with some seeking to sow chaos through vandalism and violent attacks in hopes of triggering a military response.

Bolsonaro challenged the election in November, arguing votes from some machines should be "invalidated". However, the head of Brazil's electoral court rejected the complaint.