RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Influential former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday rallied behind successor Dilma Rousseff as she chases re-election next month amid a corruption scandal and weak economy.
The ever-popular Lula was mobbed in central Rio as he made a vociferous defence of Rousseff, who is neck and neck with environmentalist opponent Marina Silva ahead of the October 5 polls.
With the outcome too close to call, recent days have seen the rival camps sharpen their attacks on each other’s candidates, with a corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras ramping up the pressure on the incumbent.
Silva, formerly environment minister under Lula, has sought to make capital out of the corruption claims after a former Petrobras director accused some 50 politicians, most of them from Rousseff’s Workers Party (PT), of receiving billions of dollars in bribes.
Rousseff, whom Lula chose as his heir on standing down after two terms in 2010, has denied any knowledge of the sweeteners scheme.