Brazil election scrambled even more with Lula prison order

The final outcome is still pending six justices have yet to submit their vote. Weber however was seen as the swing vote making it increasingly likely that the state will decide to imprison Lula

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was nearly sure to go to prison next week after a Supreme Court ruling likely doomed his plan to return to power in October elections, leaving Latin America's biggest country in a divided, angry mood Thursday.

The order was issued as Brazil's Supreme Court had ruled Lula da Silva for a 12-year jail sentence which is supposed to begin from Friday (April 6). Over the last four years, Brazilians have experienced near weekly police operations and arrests of the elite, from top politicians to businesspeople like former Odebrecht CEO Marcelo Odebrecht.

Last year, Moro convicted da Silva of trading favors with a construction company in exchange for the promise of a beachfront apartment. But his appeal failed as the Supreme Court announced that he had to serve his sentence.

Brazil's left is furious at the Supreme Court ruling, seeing Lula's imminent imprisonment as a plot to prevent the Workers' Party from returning to power.

The order from Judge Sergio Moro, head of Brazil's huge "Car Wash" anti-graft probe, came as a complete surprise given that lawyers had earlier said the leftist former two-term president had at least until Tuesday before he'd have to go behind bars.

For his part, the French newspaper Le Monde published a profile of Lula in which he recalled his popularity and charisma, to evoke the phrase "is the most popular politician in the world", pronounced in 2009 by the then United States president, Barack Obama. His endorsement was enough to get his hand-picked successor Dilma Rousseff elected twice, despite her never having held an elected office.




A defiant Workers Party, founded by Lula, said its supporters would take to the streets to defend his right to run.

The Workers Party has refused to openly discuss an alternative to nominating Lula to run. "For a long time, the prospect of letting Lula play a role in the political scene was unacceptable for a part of the Brazilian political actors, including the judiciary", he said.

Last year, Temer was twice charged with corruption but remained in office because in both cases Congress, which must vote on criminal cases involving a sitting president, chose to spare him prosecution. Under Brazilian electoral law, a candidate is forbidden from running for office for eight years after being found guilty of a crime. However, da Silva could appeal such a decision, though doing so from jail would be more complicated.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said that "the oligarchy is not interested in democracy or justice".

Da Silva's protégé, former President Rousseff, was herself ousted in 2016 for manipulating the federal budget to hide the nation's growing economic crisis.

Whether the Workers' Party will be able to mobilize major demonstrations remains to be seen.

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