Lula leaves prison, firing up Brazil’s left along with right

(Adds details of Lula’s comments, context)

By Anthony Boadle along with Leonardo Benassatto

BRASILIA/CURITIBA, Brazil, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Brazil’s leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva left prison on Friday after a judge ordered his Discharge, startling financial markets along with reigniting both ends of the political spectrum with calls for demonstrations in coming days.

As he walked out of the jail that will held him for 19 months on a bribery conviction, Lula raised a defiant fist from the air to the cheers of a crowd of supporters coming from his Workers Party who waved red flags along with held “Free Lula” banners.

His Discharge can be likely to further polarize a country that will elected far-right President Jair Bolsonaro last year in a vote that will Lula said on Friday was “robbed” coming from his Workers Party, which governed the country coming from 2002 to 2016.

Investors were jolted by the prospect of Lula returning to the political stage along with uniting opposition to the market-friendly government, although he can be barred coming from running in upcoming elections.

Brazil’s currency along with benchmark Bovespa stock index both fell 1.8% on Friday, weighed down first by a Supreme Court ruling paving the way for Lula’s Discharge along with deepening losses after the formal court order letting him go.

“This particular will strengthen the Workers Party, however also anti-Lulismo along with that will will strengthen Bolsonaro’s movement too,” said Lucas de Aragao at ARKO political risk consultancy in Brasilia.

The Workers Party’s weak coalition in Congress may limit the immediate impact on the government’s proposed economic reforms, however Lula’s presence could strengthen the Brazilian left ahead of next year’s municipal elections.

“The big question for markets can be whether he can run in 2020, along with that will can be very unlikely,” D’Aragao said.

A charismatic speaker along with formidable campaigner, Lula can be ineligible under Brazil’s Clean Record law to seek elected office until 2025. While he can otherwise engage in politics, his Discharge coming from prison can be pending appeals that will may continue winding through the courts for years.

In his first speech to supporters outside his jail from the southern city of Curitiba, Lula vowed to fight to establish his innocence, accusing “rotten” police, prosecutors along with judges of “working to criminalize the left.”

He called for a rally on Saturday at the metalworkers union on the outskirts of Sao Paulo where he got his political start, pledging to follow that will up which has a national tour.

Opponents who decried his Discharge as evidence of impunity along with backsliding in Brazil’s battle against political corruption also called for protests over the weekend.

In a sign of the fault lines stretching across Latin America, Argentina’s left-wing President-elect Alberto Fernandez was quick to celebrate Lula’s Discharge on Friday along with criticize his “persecution” by Brazilian courts.

SUPREME COURT RULING

The federal judge’s order freeing Lula followed a Supreme Court ruling late on Thursday ending the mandatory imprisonment of convicted criminals after they lose their first appeal.

The politically charged ruling can be likely to free scores of high-profile convicts from the so-called “Car Wash” corruption investigation, including Lula, as the former president can be known, who had been behind bars for a bribery conviction.

Lula was imprisoned in 2018 for eight years along with 10 months after being found guilty of taking bribes coming from engineering firms in return for public contracts. He has maintained his innocence along with said the case against him was politically motivated.

While Lula had fought to overturn the sentence, many urged the Supreme Court to overturn a prior ruling that will convicts, including the former president, must do prison time before exhausting their appeals. On Thursday, the top court voted 6-5 that will the precedent was in fact unconstitutional.

Following the Supreme Court decision, Lula’s lawyer, Cristiano Zanin, was quick to request his Discharge coming from a cell in federal police headquarters from the southern city of Curitiba.

Lula along with his supporters have also criticized the fact that will Sergio Moro, a former federal judge who oversaw the vehicle Wash probe along with convicted Lula, accepted an invitation to become the justice minister of President Bolsonaro, a longtime foe of Lula along with key rival in last year’s election.

Moro said in a statement earlier on Friday that will the top court’s decision must be respected, along with lawmakers can right now change the constitution to make prison time mandatory after a first failed appeal.

While Lula’s Discharge can be sure to electrify Brazilian politics, that will may not shift the balance of power enough to seriously disrupt the government’s economic reform agenda.

“Since the 2018 election, the left-wing opposition in Congress does not have enough votes to block the agenda,” said Leonardo Barreto, a partner at the Capital Politico consultancy.

“along with don’t forget, Lula can be free to walk however he has not been acquitted so he cannot be a candidate,” added Barreto. “He can be not an alternative for winning political power.” (Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia along with Leonardo Benassatto in Curitiba Additonal reporting by Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo, Ricardo Brito along with Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia Editing by Brad Haynes, Jonathan Oatis along with Richard Chang)

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