Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvaregistered his candidacy for the country’s upcoming election while imprisoned Wednesday.
Brazil’s Worker’s Party formally registered Lula as its candidate as an estimated 10,000 people gathered outside the electoral court in Brasilia chanting “Lula for President” and “Free Lula” in support of his presidential bid, police said.
Despite leading the polls and receiving the backing of his party and its supporters, Lula’s bid is unlikely to be accepted as he serves a 12-year jail sentence for corruption and money laundering.
In January, a Brazilian appeals court unanimously upheld a conviction against Lula for receiving more than $1 million in bribes, including a newly refurbished beachfront apartment, as part of a corruption scandal known as “Operation Car Wash.”
Under the country’s “clean record law,” politicians whose convictions are upheld on appeal are prohibited from running for office.
Lula’s vice presidential candidate and former mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad, is expected to replace Lula as the party’s nominee if he is barred from the race.
Haddad read a letter from Lula aloud to the supporters who gathered outside the electoral court Wednesday,
“Let’s talk to those who saw that Brazil has lost its way, who are without hope but who know the country needs to resolve its destiny in the ballet box, not in coups,” Lula wrote. “To remember that with democracy, with our work, Brazil will be happy again.”
Hadad placed fifth in a polling scenario that excluded Lula with 6 percent of the vote, while right-wing retired army Capt. Jair Bolsonaro led that poll with 21 percent.