Sun | Jun 4, 2023

Ally claims Bolsonaro plotted coup to block Lula presidency

Published:Thursday | February 2, 2023 | 9:31 PM
Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, storm the the National Congress building in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023. Brazil’s federal police searched the home of a nephew of Bolsonaro on Friday, January 27, 2023, in connection with the January 8 storming of government buildings in the capital by far-right protesters. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian magazine on Thursday released audio of a senator claiming then President Jair Bolsonaro sought help in a plot to annul the October elections and keep himself in power.

In the recording, Senator Marcos do Val tells the magazine Veja that the idea was discussed when he met with Bolsonaro and lawmaker Daniel Silveira on December 9 at the presidential residence, three weeks before leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was set to take office.

Do Val, who was an ally during Bolsonaro's four-year term, said the far-right leader gave him the “mission” of recording Alexandre de Moraes, a Supreme Court justice who also heads Brazil's electoral authority, while trying to get the judge to admit he overstepped his powers under the constitution.

“'I annul the election, Lula isn't sworn in, I stay in the presidency and arrest Alexandre de Moraes because of his comments,'” do Val quotes Bolsonaro as saying.

Veja released the audio in response to denials the senator issued following the magazine's report Thursday morning about the purported plot, which had not cited him as its source. Do Val told reporters after the magazine published its story that the plot had been Silveira's idea and that the former president hadn't said a word during the meeting.

Later Thursday, de Moraes ordered the Federal Police to take do Val's sworn testimony within five days. Bolsonaro, who has been keeping a low profile in Florida since December 30, did not comment on the matter on any of his social media channels. He recently applied for a six-month tourist visa to stay in the US.

Contacted by The Associated Press, Bolsonaro's lawyer Frederick Wassef declined to comment.

The alleged meeting adds to the growing list of woes for Bolsonaro, who is already under investigation for his possible role in his supporters' uprising in the Brazilian capital on January 8.

Bolsonaro cast doubt on the nation's electronic voting system for months in the lead-up to the election, and he then refused to concede defeat. His die-hard supporters have accused de Moraes of rigging the election in Lula's favour, without offering any evidence, and of overstepping his authority by blocking social media accounts and ordering allegedly arbitrary arrests and searches.

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