Court Bars Former Brazilian President Bolsonaro From Holding Public Office

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Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right former president of Brazil, promised to challenge a court decision that barred him from holding public office for eight years due to false criticisms he had made of the nation’s electoral process.

Bolsonaro’s comments, according to prosecutors, were to blame for the violent takeover of the presidential mansion, Congress, and Supreme Court in January by supporters upset about his election defeat to the leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The former president told journalists the 5-2 Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) decision was a “stab in the back,” adding he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

“I’m not dead, we’re going to keep working,” Bolsonaro told journalists in Belo Horizonte in Brazil’s southeast.

In a verdict that stretched over several days, five of the seven judges of the TSE in Brasilia voted to censure Bolsonaro for alleged abuses of power. Two found in his favor.

The tribunal tried Bolsonaro, 68, over a televised meeting he held with foreign diplomats in July 2022, three months before his election defeat to Lula.

Bolsonaro spent nearly an hour making his argument to the assembled ambassadors, but presented no hard evidence to back his claims that electronic voting machines in use since 1996 compromised election transparency.

The TSE ruling means Bolsonaro will be ineligible to stand in the presidential election in 2026, opening the contest for a new leader for Brazil’s political right.

“This is not the end of the right in Brazil,” Bolsonaro insisted Friday.