Lula: Jailed ex-leader pulls out of Brazil election
Brazil’s ex-President Lula
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has pulled out of next month’s presidential election to allow his running mate to stand in his place.
Lula had been the frontrunner despite being in jail for a corruption conviction and despite the top electoral court barring his candidacy.
With the deadline for the registration of candidates only hours away, he threw his weight behind his Workers’ Party colleague Fernando Haddad.
The election is on 7 October.
It has been a tumultuous election campaign dominated by Lula’s legal battles and the stabbing last week of Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right candidate who is second in the polls behind Lula.
With the clock ticking down on a deadline for candidates to be registered, senior members of the Workers’ Party gathered in front of the police headquarters where Lula, 72, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.
The party’s founder, Luiz Eduardo Greenhalgh, then read out a letter written by Lula in his cell.
In it, Lula, who governed from January 2003 until December 2010, said that he had been “unjustly imprisoned” before asking “all who would vote for me to vote for our friend Fernando Haddad for president”.
Lula was barred from running for the presidency under a 2010 law dubbed “Clean Slate”. It prohibits those who have a criminal conviction which has been upheld on appeal from running for public office.
In July 2017, Lula was found guilty of accepting an upgrade to a beachfront flat as a bribe from an engineering firm involved in a major corruption scheme.
Lula has always denied any wrongdoing and appealed against the verdict. The appeal was rejected and Lula was given 24 hours to turn himself in.
From his cell, Lula has continued the legal fight against his conviction and the ban which prevents him from running for public office.
The decision was made less than two weeks after Brazil’s top electoral court ruled that he was “ineligible” to run for the presidency.
Lula’s legal team has appealed against that decision and the Supreme Court is still due to rule on it.
But after a Workers’ Party request to extend the deadline to register presidential candidates from the 11 September to 17 September was rejected, its leadership felt it had to act.
Not registering Mr Haddad meant that if Lula’s appeal were to fail, the party could have been left without a presidential candidate altogether.
After Lula backed Mr Haddad in his letter, the party registered him as its new candidate with just hours to spare. (BBC)