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DELEGATES to Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) special convention in Sao Paulo named former president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva on yesterday as its nominee for the country’s top job.
Lula, who served two terms as president and is still the country’s most popular politician, has been in jail since March on a corruption conviction that he denounces as political persecution.
Lawyers continue to wrangle over his release pending appeal and whether he will be allowed to stand in October’s election.
He leads opinion polls by a wide margin and surveys suggest voters would back another PT candidate if he is barred from running.
Lula sent a recorded message to the convention, declaring: “It is those who sentenced me that are imprisoned in a lie.
“Brazil needs to restore its democracy, find itself and be happy again. They might lock me up, shut me up, but I will keep my faith in the Brazilian people.”
PT chairwoman Gleisi Hoffmann, who is approaching other left-leaning parties to back the PT ticket, told the convention: “They tried to exclude Lula from the political discussion but there is no political discussion in Brazil without Lula and the Workers’ Party.”
Delegates also supported a radical reform document to return to government and recover from the controversial impeachment of Lula’s presidential successor Dilma Rousseff — termed a parliamentary “political coup” — that installed Michel Temer as president.
Its five key policy areas include achieving “national and popular sovereignty in the re-establishment of democracy, a new historic period of affirming and winning democratic rights, a federal pact to deliver social rights, a new development model and “ecological transition for a new 21st-century society.”
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