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Lula launches campaign to unseat Bolsonaro, vows to 'rebuild' Brazil

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a news conference in Sao Bernardo do Campo near Sao Paulo, Brazil March 10, 2021. (File photo by Reuters)

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has announced his intention to unseat the far-right populist president Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula publicly declared his intention to retake the presidency office from his arch-enemy and rebuild the country devastated by the "irresponsible and criminal"  administration of Bolsonaro.

The 76-year-old charismatic leader told supporters gathered in Sao Paulo, "I'm jumping back into the fight."

“We have a dream. We are moved by hope – and there is no force greater than the hope of a people who know they can be happy once more … Once again we are going to care for Brazil and the Brazilian people,” the charismatic leader said.

"We're ready to work not only to win the election on October 2, but to rebuild and transform Brazil, which will be even more difficult," he added.

"We need to change Brazil once again... We need to return to a place where no one ever dares to defy democracy again. We need to send fascism back to the sewer of history, where it should have been all along," Lula told his cheering supporters, calling on the nation to unite in an effort to bring down the far-right incumbent in upcoming elections.

He called on "all democrats" to join him in the fight against "incompetence and authoritarianism."

The Saturday rally was described by his campaign as a "pre-launch" as official campaigning begins in August. However, Lula has been in unofficial campaign mode since March last year, when the country's Supreme Court annulled the years-long corruption convictions that led to his imprisonment and prevented him from running again for office, sidelining him from politics for years.

He had led the country for eight years from 2003 to 2010 before being convicted in connection to his party's huge bribery scandal, known as "Operation Car Wash".

The Supreme Court's ruling enabled Lula to launch a campaign for October's presidential election and now opinion polls show that he is on course to win his sixth presidential run since he first attempted to become the president of the South American country in 1989.

One survey, released on the eve of his announcement, gave him a 13% lead over incumbent Bolsonaro in the first round and a 20% lead in a second round runoff.

Since he assumed power in January 2019, Bolsonaro has clamped down on democratic institutions, downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and attacked environmental protections, as well as reviving Cold War-era divisions to paint his rivals as communists.

In contrast, Lula's campaign, entitled "Come together for Brazil", is attempting to widen its voting coalition by naming centrist Geraldo Alckmin as his running mate, in a bid to overcome many Brazilians' misgivings towards his leftist Workers' Party, due to its past links to the massive corruption scandal.

Lula's campaign slogan in the country is to "unite Democrats from all political positions, classes, races and religious beliefs."

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