Former Brazilian president vows to fight corruption charges

Latin America

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva has vowed to fight his conviction on corruption charges. He’ll also press on with a campaign to re-take the presidency next year. While Lula has plenty of passion and support, Brazilian law threatens to stand in his way.

CGTN’s Paulo Cabral reports from Sao Paulo.

Despite a conviction and sentence of almost 10 years in prison on corruption charges, Lula da Silva remained defiant in his first public address after the court action. He denied all charges and vowed to return to power.

“I want tell my fellow party members that until now I had not asked be our presidential candidate. But as of now, I request the workers Party to consider may name for the ballot in next years’ presidential elections,” he announced.

Despite all allegations against Lula da Silva in recent years, polls still place him ahead of all other potential contenders for president in the 2018 election. Even so, none of it will matter if an appeals court upholds his conviction. He’d likely be jailed and barred from running for office for eight years after finishing his sentence.

Lulas’s supporters believe his conviction was politically motivated, to crush his growing popularity. Meanwhile, analysts have said the absence of Lula on the ballot and a growing distaste for all major parties could open space for outsiders and newcomers in 2018.

Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is one. He’s a former army captain with highly conservative views known for making controversial statements. There’s also the mayor of Sao Paulo, João Doria Junior. He’s a businessman and former reality show host, who ran his campaign on a platform of rejection of traditional politicians.

Financial markets responded positively to Lula’s conviction and possible election ban, with Brazilian stocks and currency both going up. But there’s still concern that political instability could undermine Brazil’s efforts to recover from recession.

President Michel Temer is also at risk of losing his office over corruption allegations, and his government is struggling to survive with little strength to push ahead with the economic reforms.