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Brazil activists occupy buildings in culture ministry protest
People protest against Brazilian acting president Michel Temer at the Culture Ministry in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 16, 2016. Temer vowed Friday to get Latin America's largest economy back on track after a cascade of crises put an end to 13 years of leftist rule. Impeachment trial was opened Thursday in Brasilia against suspended leftist president Dilma Rousseff. CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP).- Protesters against the new Brazilian government's decision to ax the culture ministry occupied buildings linked to the ministry in 11 regional capitals on Wednesday, Brazilian media reported.

Acting President Michel Temer, who took over last week after president Dilma Rousseff's suspension for an impeachment trial, has cut the number of ministries from 32 to 23 in a measure he says will help streamline a bloated government.

However merging the culture portfolio into the education ministry has provoked a storm of protest led by the country's cultural elite.

Activists occupied several buildings in the capital Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, as well as seven other state capitals, G1 news site reported.

Temer named a new culture secretary, Marcelo Calero, on Wednesday. He had promised to name a woman to the post after coming under fire for forming an all-male cabinet, but five female candidates refused the post, Brazilian media reported.

The issue grabbed headlines at the Cannes film festival in France, where the Brazilian director of the movie "Aquarius" hit out at the new government for "extinguishing" the culture ministry and for its lack of women.

Kleber Mendonca Filho said the political turmoil had caused a "dramatic divide" in the country.

Rousseff was forced aside by the Senate on May 12 to face trial on charges of illegally manipulating government accounts. She would be removed from power if the Senate trial ends with a two-thirds majority vote against her.

Her suspension ends 13 straight years of rule by the leftist Workers' Party. Temer, a market-oriented centrist, is from the center-right PMDB party.

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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