Lula clear to take on Bolsonaro as Brazil court upholds ruling
The next presidential election is set for October 2022 and the devastating toll of the pandemic is likely to be a key issue.
Brazil’s Supreme Court has upheld a ruling annulling the corruption convictions of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, clearing the way for him to run for a new presidential term next year against incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
The majority decision, which was widely expected, came on Thursday after Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin determined in early March that the lower federal court where Lula was tried lacked jurisdiction; a ruling that was quickly appealed by Brazil’s top prosecutor.
The ruling does not find Lula innocent but in effect places prosecutors back at square one by sending the cases to a different court.
The quashing of Lula’s convictions – albeit on procedural grounds – has upended Brazilian politics as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro gears up to seek re-election as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages Latin America’s biggest country.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has described a virus that has killed more than 365,000 Brazilians, the world’s second-highest death toll, as a “little flu”. After Fachin’s ruling, Lula described Bolsonaro’s approach to the pandemic as “imbecilic” and likened the situation to genocide.
Bolsonaro, a former army captain who is 66, said the court ruling means “Lula is now a candidate” for 2022 – and ominously warned of the consequences.
“Look what Brazil’s future is going to be like with the kind of people he’d bring into the presidency,” the current president said in his weekly live address on Facebook.
“You can all draw your own conclusions.”
Lula was convicted of taking bribes from engineering firms in return for public contracts in 2018 and spent a year and a half behind bars until the Supreme Court ruled he and others could appeal their cases without serving time in prison.
The election is scheduled for October 2022. Early polls suggest it will be a tight race.
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