Lawyers for jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday withdrew a request before Brazil’s Supreme Court that he be freed because it risked shutting the door on his candidacy in the October presidential election.
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Lula was nominated by his Workers Party on Saturday, denouncing that his conviction was political persecution aimed at stopping Brazil’s most popular president from returning to power.
The country’s top electoral court is expected to invalidate his candidacy when it is registered on the Aug. 15 deadline and the party has picked former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad as running mate to stand in for Lula if needed.
Haddad said on Monday Lula had asked for the release petition to be dropped because of the risk that the top court would decide simultaneously that he was ineligible to run for office under an anti-corruption law. If the top court ruled, the electoral court would not be able to consider his case.
"It was a request for his release, but it appears that the petition was going to be used to rule on his eligibility in the election," Haddad told reporters after visiting Lula in his prison in the southern city of Curitiba. "Lula has always said he will not trade his dignity for freedom," said Haddad, who is a lawyer and was added to the former president’s defense team so that he could visit Lula regularly in jail.
Latest polls show about one-third of Brazilians would vote for him if he is allowed to run — almost double his nearest adversary, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro — and many of his supporters will vote for whoever replaces him in the race.