The head of Brazil’s military has issued a warning against the presidential candidacy of the country’s imprisoned former leader Lula da Silva, who has been banned from standing for office on corruption charges.
The warning from General Eduardo Villas Boas came as followers of far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro demonstrated in support of the frontrunner and former army officer, who is convalescing after being stabbed while campaigning.
In an interview published Sunday in the Estadao de S.Paulo newspaper, Villas Boas said that “the worst scenario” would be for a president to be elected with a pending court ruling, “removing legitimacy… and further dividing Brazilian society.”
He took aim at the UN Human Rights Committee, which recently said the left-wing leader could not be barred from elections while his legal appeals are ongoing.
It is “is an attempt to violate national sovereignty,” Villas Boas said of the committee’s position.
The general caused a stir in April when his criticism of “impunity” for corrupt politicians was seen as a direct appeal for the Supreme Court to authorize prison for Lula and many other members of the political system.
Brazil’s military is highly respected but has kept largely clear of politics since the return of democracy in 1985 after two decades of dictatorship.
However the Workers Party of Lula was furious at General Villas Boas statements and described it as an open insubordination to the 1988 constitutions, which currently rules Brazil.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Sao Paulo demonstrated in support of Bolsonaro on Sunday.
Bolsonaro is hospitalized in the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, which said Sunday that his condition is improving but that he was still receiving nutrients intravenously.