The minister of Brazil's Special Ports Secretariat, Jose Leonidas Cristino, resigned Thursday, spurred to do so by the decision of the Brazilian Socialist Party, or PSB, to abandon the government coalition of President Dilma Rousseff.

In an official statement, the president's Social Communication Secretariat said that Cristino "decided to leave the post after providing a competent contribution to the government and the country."

According to the communique, Rousseff "regretted the minister's departure" and is "sure" that Cristino "will continue providing relevant service to Brazil."

Last Tuesday, the then-minister of national integration, Fernando Bezerra, also of the PSB, made his resignation official out of "respect" for his party's decision on Sept. 18 to leave the government.

On that date, the PSB president and governor of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Eduardo Campos, announced that the party had decided to adopt a position of "independence" with an eye toward beginning an internal debate on the possibility of fielding its own presidential candidate in the 2014 election.

Campos himself could be the PSB candidate, but he has not yet officially confirmed such aspirations although he has alluded that his goal is to run in the election, for which - so far - the clear favorite is Rousseff.

According to Campos, by leaving the government coalition the PSB gave itself the "freedom to debate the future of Brazil and also to debate the possibility, or not, of having its own candidacy in 2014."

On Sept. 26, a week after the PSB left the government coalition, Cristino, former National Integration Minister Ciro Gomes and Ceara state Gov. Cid Gomes resigned from the party.

Cristino's exit from the Cabinet now enables the administration to give his post to one of the parties that remains in the coalition, thus shoring up the coalition's unity with an eye toward next year's elections.

Economist Antonio Henrique Pinheiro Silveira, the current secretary of economic monitoring in the Finance Ministry, will occupy Cristino's former post on an interim basis, the communique said. EFE