Bolsonaro back in Brazil after US stint and says leftists won't last

Former leader returns for first time after post-poll riots and says he will collaborate with his party

Jair Bolsonaro at the Liberal Party headquarters in Brasilia on Thursday. AFP
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Brazil's former president Jair Bolsonaro returned home on Thursday following a three-month stint in Florida after his election loss.

The right-wing populist told supporters he does not believe the left will be in power in the country for long.

Mr Bolsonaro, who is the subject of several investigations that could stymie any attempts at a political comeback, arrived in the capital under tight security.

Authorities sought to avoid any repeat of events on January 8, when Bolsonaro supporters who did not accept his defeat stormed government buildings. This time, police in Brasilia blocked the main artery to those buildings.

The former president said in his first speech after touching down that his leftist successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and his allies “will not do whatever they want to the fate of our nation” and added that the left would only retain power “for now, for a little while”.

Speaking in front of a banner that read “today Brazil woke up stronger”, Mr Bolsonaro said he would spend as much time as necessary at the headquarters of his Liberal Party to help the campaign for next year’s municipal polls when the country elects 5,500 mayors nationwide.

He earlier told CNN Brazil that he would not personally lead the opposition to Mr da Silva.

“I will not lead any opposition, I will help my party as a person with experience,” Mr Bolsonaro said.

He is under five Supreme Court investigations that could land him in prison.

Four are related to alleged crimes during his 2019-2022 presidency, with the other over accusations he incited a riot by supporters who invaded the presidential palace, Congress and the Supreme Court on January 8, protesting against his election loss.

Mr Bolsonaro waves to supporters in Brasilia. Getty

The first investigation opened in 2020, when Mr Bolsonaro's former justice minister Sergio Moro accused him of interfering in federal police investigations to shield family members from corruption charges.

He is also under investigation for two cases of spreading disinformation — one on Covid-19 and the other on Brazil's electronic voting system.

The final Supreme Court investigation pertains to leaking classified information about a police investigation of a cyber attack on Brazil's electoral authority.

While he was president, Mr Bolsonaro could only be tried by the Supreme Court.

Mr Bolsonaro denies the allegations.

“A prison order can come from nowhere,” he told The Wall Street Journal in February.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Updated: March 30, 2023, 4:43 PM

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