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Brazil finance minister to keep job: president

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sprang to the defence of her embattled finance minister on Sunday, saying she would not be pressured into sacking him.

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sprang to the defence of her embattled finance minister on Sunday, saying she would not be pressured into sacking him.

Ms Rousseff, fighting to save her second term presidency from threatened impeachment proceedings, said she was ignoring suggestions by the head of her own Workers' Party (PT) that Joaquim Levy should be dismissed.

"I think the president of the PT (Rui Falcao) can have whatever opinion he wishes, but that is not the opinion of the government," Ms Rousseff was quoted as saying by Brazil's Folha newspaper during a visit to Sweden.

"If I tell you that is not the opinion of the government, then Levy stays." Further backing Mr Levy, Ms Rousseff said "if he stays, it's because we agree with his policies."

Mr Levy is under pressure over Brazil's recession, mounting inflation and unemployment and the government's inability to pass new austerity measures in a hostile Congress. Some in the leftist PT oppose policies that they say will worsen the economic situation for Brazil's poor.

Among those urging Ms Rousseff to sack Mr Levy, according to Brazilian media, is Ms Rousseff's mentor and predecessor in the presidency, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Ms Rousseff also dismissed this, saying "he never asked me for anything."

Rumours briefly flew on Friday that Mr Levy was going to hand in his resignation. A similar rumour blew up in September, highlighting the turmoil in Rousseff's government.

Ms Rousseff is not only struggling with political opponents in Congress, but hoping to reassure financial markets following a credit downgrade by Standard & Poor's last month to junk status and another downgrade this week, to just above junk, by Fitch Ratings.

AFP