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Bolsonaro faces investigations as political crisis unfolds in Brazil

A POLITICAL crisis is unfolding in Brazil, with far-right President Jair Bolsonaro facing potential impeachment charges after a complaint raised against him by former justice minister Sergio Moro.

The former ally of Mr Bolsonaro resigned sensationally on Friday after the president fired federal police chief Mauricio Vaelixo without giving a reason. He was replaced by the boss of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, Alexandre Ramagem.

Brazil’s Attorney General Augusto Aras has paved the way for charges to be brought against Mr Bolsonaro, requesting the Supreme Federal Court open investigations into allegations of political interference.

Analysts suggest that Mr Bolsonaro could face impeachment, while his administration is in turmoil over his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month he sacked health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, the pair clashing over the measures needed to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. Mr Mandetta had insisted the need to maintain social distancing, which Mr Bolsonaro has dismissed.

Formerly Mr Moro was the judge behind the widely condemned jailing of Brazil’s popular former president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, who was leading in the polls ahead of the 2018 presidential election.

His subsequent banning from standing paved the way for Mr Bolsonaro’s victory, and the far-right leader rewarded Mr Moro by appointing him justice minister.

But last year investigative news website the Intercept published stunning revelations in a series of WhatsApp messages, suggesting a conspiracy between Mr Moro and prosecutors to ensure that Lula ended up behind bars.

Mr Moro remained a close confidant of Mr Bolsonaro, but his resignation last Friday indicates serious cracks in Brazil’s ruling elite. He said the sacking of Mr Valeixo was “a signal that the president wanted me out.”

The former minister has now emerged as a serious rival to Mr Bolsonaro, with Free Journalists spokesman Bouaventura de Sousa claiming that the US is now backing Mr Moro for the 2022 election.

The Portuguese academic said that Mr Moro has paved the way for his candidacy by “destroying the Brazilian economy, destroying the left” and creating the conditions for Mr Bolsonaro, whom he described as a “transitional politician” to be discarded.

Brazil remains the worst-hit country in the region, with nearly 63,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 4,200 deaths.

But health officials warn that the true figure may be much higher, citing a lack of early testing, as hospitals struggle to cope and bodies are buried in mass graves.

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