Brazil's minister of cities steps down

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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil's minister of cities resigned Thursday amid allegations of irregularities, the eighth member of President Dilma Rousseff's Cabinet to step down since June.

Rousseff accepted Mario Negromonte's resignation and wished him luck in his new projects, the office of the presidency said in a brief statement.

Aguinaldo Ribeiro, also of Negromonte's Progressive Party, was named to replace him. The Progressive Party is part of the governing coalition.

The Cities Ministry coordinates urban development policies in a country where more than 80 percent of the population live in cities.

Negromonte is accused of awarding public work contracts to companies that had financed his party. He denies all accusations and said his resignation in no way indicated he was guilty.

Since Rousseff assumed office on Jan. 1, 2011, the ministers of cities, defense, transportation, agriculture, tourism, sports and labor have stepped down.

The president's chief-of-staff, also a Cabinet member, resigned amid questions over how his personal wealth soared while he was a legislator in 2006-10.

Former Defense Minister Nelson Jobim was forced to resign in August after saying he was surrounded by "idiots" and insulting other ministers.

Rousseff, however, has managed to remain above the scandals, enjoying a high popularity rating among Brazilians.

Some have commended Brazil's first female president for taking action against ministers facing corruption allegations.

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