Brazil's top electoral court has barred former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from running for reelection because of a corruption conviction, just weeks before Brazilians go to the polls for a vote in which he was considered a frontrunner despite being in prison.
Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso cast the first vote against Lula, saying the ruling was "very simple" because the law forbids candidates whose conviction has been upheld on appeal.
But Lula and supporters had hoped the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which makes final decisions on candidacies, would allow him to run. Currently, Haddad is the candidate for vice president.
The electoral court also ruled that Lula should not appear in the Workers Party's television and radio ads campaign until the ticket has been officially altered to remove him.
A party statement said the court had bowed to the wishes of Brazil's elites to stop Lula returning to office.
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Before Friday's court judgement on whether he could run, Brazil's prosecutor general filed to bar his candidacy due to the law prohibiting those who have lost appeals against their conviction from standing. The court also banned the leader from campaign advertisements. Finally, the PT stressed that Lula's candidacy is the response from the Brazilian people to those who usurped power (through the parliamentary-judicial coup perpetrated in 2016 against Constitutional President Dilma Roussef).
Lula has also received backing from the UN Human Rights Committee, which ruled that he can not be disqualified from the elections as his legal appeals are ongoing.
Lula's case was a last-minute addition to the Superior Electoral Court's extraordinary session, where seven magistrates in Brasilia began hearing it at 5:00 pm (2000 GMT). That would seem to leave the party's fortunes in the hands of its current vice presidential candidate Fernando Haddad, a former Sao Paulo mayor who so far has polled in single digits and would have to count on the borrowed charisma of da Silva to succeed.
The former firebrand union leader led Brazil during a booming period from 2003 and 2010, promoting social policies that pulled millions from poverty. But whether Lula can transfer his popularity to a replacement remains to be seen.
Despite the uncertainty over his ability to stand, Lula now leads polls with more than double the share of his nearest challenger, the right-winger Jair Bolsonaro.