(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Protesters took to the streets in several Brazilian cities on Saturday to demand the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro, whose popularity has fallen in recent weeks amid corruption scandals against the backdrop of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This week, news broke that Brazil’s defence ministry told congressional leadership that next year’s elections would not take place without amending the country’s electronic voting system to include a paper trail of each vote.
Bolsonaro has suggested several times without evidence that the current system is prone to fraud, allegations that Brazil’s government has denied.
He is facing re-election next year, in a race in which he is likely to face his political nemesis, former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Polls currently show Bolsonaro losing against Lula.
Saturday’s protests were at least the second time this month that Brazilians have taken to the streets in several cities to oppose Bolsonaro.
More than 500,000 Brazilians have died of Covid-19 under the leadership of Bolsonaro, who has been widely criticised for dismissing the severity of the disease and opposing masks and social distancing measures.
He has been famously dismissive of the health crisis, the need to wear face masks, and lockdown measures to halt the spread of the virus.
On June 30 the opposition in congress presented an impeachment complaint that is an amalgam of some 100 others already filed with more than 20 different charges against the president.
However, Bolsonaro still has enough support in congress to block these initiatives, including that of the speaker, who decides whether the complaints are allowed to proceed.
He is also being investigated in the Senate, which is probing the possibility of corruption tied to the purchase of an Indian coronavirus vaccine.
In Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue, the traditional location for political protests, more than 1,000 people gathered on Saturday for the protest.
Bolsonaro was in Brasilia, the capital, on Saturday and went out for a motorcycle ride while greeting supporters.
Protest marches took place in some 400 cities and towns.
In Rio de Janeiro, thousands of people in red clothes and wearing face masks marched with banners bearing slogans berating the embattled leader, including“No one can take any more” and“Get out corrupt criminal”.
Organisers said that they were part of a day intended to galvanise the country“in defence of democracy, the lives of Brazilians and getting Bolsonaro out”.
“I’m here because it is time to react to the genocidal government that we have, that has taken over our country,” said Marcos Kirst, a protester in Sao Paulo.
“It is very important that everyone who feels offended or oppressed by this government comes out to the streets, because we need to fight for the return to democracy,” Laise de Oliveira, a 65-year-old social worker, told AFP in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian press carried images and reports of streets thronged with anti-Bolsonaro demonstrators in 20 of Brazil’s 26 states through early afternoon.
Neither the protest organisers nor the authorities have released an overall estimate of the number of people attending the demonstrations.
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