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Brazil Elections: Lula da Silva Says Bolsonaro Taking Low Road in Campaign

The Leftist leader said he is for religious freedom and had demonstrated that during his eight years as president from 2003 to 2010, as Bolsonaro followers alleged that his wife is a follower of an Afro-Brazilian religion.
Brazil's former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Brazil's former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Sao Paulo: Brazil's former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is running to return to the job, has said that his rival, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, is taking the low road against him and his family on the campaign trail.

Speaking on Monday in his first news conference for foreign journalists since the campaign began, the Leftist leader accused Bolsonaro's supporters of spreading falsehoods about him and also his new wife Rosângela da Silva.

Some Bolsonaro supporters have used social media to allege that da Silva will close evangelical churches if he wins October's election.

Da Silva has insisted he is for religious freedom and had demonstrated that during his eight years as president from 2003 to 2010. His Workers' Party has taken court action against a pastor-lawmaker who spread the claim.

Bolsonaro followers have alleged that da Silva's wife is a follower of an Afro-Brazilian religion in an apparent attempt to hurt the former president's support among evangelicals.

Rosângela da Silva said on Twitter on August 9 that she and her husband will always respect people's faith no matter which, and da Silva echoed that stance on Monday.

Asked about media reports that Bolsonaro was interested in questioning his wife's faith in TV ads, da Silva replied: “I never involved any president's wife in a political campaign. I never included any personal problems of any candidate in their political life.

“When you start involving the wives (of candidates) in campaigns, it is because you have nothing to speak about,” da Silva said.

The 76-year-old former president also accused Bolsonaro of being “the only (candidate) who has ... used fake news and who has challenged Brazil's institutions” by suggesting he might not accept the results of the elections.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly claimed the nation's electronic voting system is susceptible to fraud, without presenting any evidence, while authorities and independent experts have vouched for its reliability.

In a 40-minute interview with television network Globo on Monday night, Bolsonaro was asked if he will accept results of the vote and instruct his fervent followers to do the same. He responded in the affirmative, but with a caveat:

“The results of the vote will be respected, as long as the election is clean and transparent,” he said on the widely watched nightly news programme.

He noted that the armed forces, which sit on the nation's electoral transparency commission, will be in part responsible for deciding whether the vote was transparent. He also said he had needed to be provocative in order to push for improvements to the voting system.

Bolsonaro wasn't asked about da Silva during the televised interview, nor did he make reference to the former president.

During da Silva's interview with foreign press earlier on Monday, reporters asked about democracy in neighbouring Venezuela, and he said he defends alternating power in all countries.

The Brazilian has an amicable relationship with Leftist presidents, such as Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.

“There is no irreplaceable president. Brazil will treat Venezuela with respect,” said da Silva. Later, when asked about his lack of criticism of the region's autocratic leaders, he added: “I have always known how to respect the self-determination of peoples, I can't meddle."

“I hope the European Union will treat Venezuela with respect and that the United States will re-establish relations with Venezuela,” the former president added. He praised contacts between US President Joe Biden and Caracas.

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