Brazil court votes to bar Bolsonaro from office until 2030 lawandpolicychambers

Brazil court votes to bar Bolsonaro from office until 2030

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A majority on Brazilโ€™s highest electoral court has voted to bar former President Jair Bolsonaro from public office until 2030 over his conduct during last yearโ€™s tightly contested elections.

The seven-member Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) voted five-to-two on Friday to convict the far-right leader of abuse of power in his push to cast doubt on the South American countryโ€™s electronic voting system.

Bolsonaro has been accused of rallying his supporters to reject his narrow loss to left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the October elections, culminating in an assault on government buildings earlier this year.

The courtโ€™s decision โ€“ once voting of all the justices concludes โ€“ means that Bolsonaro will not be able to contest the presidential elections in 2026, dealing a massive blow to the 68-year-oldโ€™s political future.

On Friday, he described the decision as a โ€œstab in the backโ€ and pledged to keep working to advance right-wing politics in Brazil.

In an interview with the Itatiaia radio station before Fridayโ€™s judgment, Bolsonaro also rejected any wrongdoing. โ€œI have not attacked the voting system; I just showed its possible flaws,โ€ he said. โ€œThis trial doesnโ€™t make any sense.โ€

Al Jazeeraโ€™s Monica Yanakiew, reporting from Rio de Janeiro, said the former president has already signalled he plans to appeal up to the Brazilian Supreme Court, but it is unlikely that the court would rule in his favour.

“This decision means that he wonโ€™t be able to run for office until 2030,โ€ Yanakiew said on Friday.

โ€œThat doesnโ€™t mean that he is not a political player,โ€ she added. โ€œHe still has a lot of popularity.โ€

The case focused on a July 18, 2022, meeting in which Bolsonaro used government staffers, the state television channel and the presidential palace in Brasilia to tell foreign ambassadors that the countryโ€™s electronic voting system was rigged.

The lead justice in the case, Benedito Goncalves, said earlier this week that Bolsonaro had โ€œused the meeting with ambassadors to spread doubts and incite conspiracy theoriesโ€.

โ€œHe instigated a belief that there was a real threat the results of the 2022 election would be adulterated,โ€ Goncalves said. โ€œIt was extremely harmful to the democratic environment.โ€

A former army captain, Bolsonaro narrowly lost last yearโ€™s presidential elections, securing 49.1 percent of the vote compared with Lulaโ€™s 50.9 percent.

Bolsonaro repeatedly cast doubt on Brazilโ€™s voting system in the lead-up to the contest, alleging without any evidence that it was vulnerable to massive fraud.

Critics said his campaign mirrored the tactics of former US President Donald Trump โ€“ whom Bolsonaro had emulated โ€“ and many accused the ex-Brazilian president of fomenting a nationwide movement to overturn the results.

Bolsonaroโ€™s supporters erected road blockades and organised protests following his defeat, and on January 8, a mob of thousands stormed Brazilโ€™s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace in an effort to contest Lulaโ€™s new administration.

Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo, said the electoral courtโ€™s decision on Friday โ€œwill end Bolsonaroโ€™s chances of being president again, and he knows itโ€.

โ€œAfter this, he will try to stay out of jail, elect some of his allies to keep his political capital, but it is very unlikely he will ever return to the presidency,โ€ Melo told The Associated Press.

While Bolsonaro does not risk jail in the electoral case, he is separately facing multiple criminal investigations that could put him behind bars.

Meanwhile, Brazilian Justice Minister Flavio Dino celebrated the electoral courtโ€™s decision.

โ€œSome important messages come from the TSE trial: lying is not a legitimate tool for exercising a public function and politics is not governed by the law of the jungle,โ€ Dino tweeted. โ€œDemocracy has overcome its toughest stress test in decades.โ€

Courtesy: AlJazeera

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