Brazil's Lula set to anoint stand-in for presidential race

2018-09-11 20:42
Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AP File)

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AP File)

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Brazil's jailed ex-leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was expected to resign his candidacy for another presidential term on Tuesday and name his running mate as his replacement before a court-ordered deadline.

Fernando Haddad, a former Sao Paulo mayor and Lula's vice presidential running mate, was expected to make the announcement later in the day before Lula supporters camped outside his jail in the southern city of Curitiba.

The change is a virtual certainty because otherwise Lula's Workers Party will have no candidate in the presidential elections, with the first round less than a month away on October 7.

It comes less than two weeks after the Superior Electoral Tribunal ruled that the popular but polarizing former president cannot run while serving a 12-year sentence for corruption.

The tribunal gave the Workers Party until 19:00 local time on Tuesday (2200 GMT) to name a stand-in.

Though jailed, the 72-year-old Lula was the frontrunner in polls, and his removal from the race has scrambled the field, catapulting rightwing populist Jair Bolsonaro to the fore.

A poll out Monday by Datafolha shows Haddad, a 55-year-old with little of the star power of his mentor, with nine percent support, up five points from a month ago.

That places him in a mix of candidates aspiring to go to a second round of voting against Bolsonaro, who currently is out front at 26 percent.

Clean slate rules

Lula's supporters have been camped out outside the federal police headquarters in Curitiba since he was incarcerated April 7.

The city is the epicenter of a sprawling corruption investigation that has brought to justice dozens of politicians and business leaders, including Lula, who was president from 2003 to 2011.

He was convicted in July 2017 of taking a bribe from a Brazilian construction company in the form of a luxury seaside apartment in return for contracts with state oil giant Petrobras.

Numerous appeals of the conviction and sentence have failed, and his lawyers also have been unable to get around clean slate rules that have kept Lula off the ballot.

He faces trial in five other cases, but insists he is the innocent victim of politically motivated prosecutions to keep him out of office.

A former metalworker, Lula rose as a union leader during Brazil's military dictatorship, co-founding the Workers Party in 1980.

His presidency was credited with lifting millions out of poverty through generous social programs, transforming his Workers Party into a political powerhouse.

It has won the last four presidential elections, the last two by Dilma Rousseff, Lula's handpicked successor who was ousted from power by Congress in 2016, accused of manipulating federal budgets.

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