Rousseff appeals for 'international solidarity' with Brazil's Lula

Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called for 'international solidarity' with her jailed predecessor

Brazil's former president Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday called for "international solidarity" with her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who was jailed over the weekend on a corruption conviction. Lula, 72, remains the leftist Workers' Party candidate for Brazil's October presidential election though his incarceration casts doubts on whether he can legally run for office. He remains the comfortable favourite in voter surveys heading toward the October election. "We need international solidarity," Rousseff, who was impeached in 2016 for allegedly falsifying public accounts, told a conference in Madrid. She warned that "Brazilian democracy is at risk" because of the "parliamentary coup" which led to her impeachment and replacement as president by her conservative vice president Michel Temer. Lula has so far received the support of the leftist governments of Cuba and Venezuela. While in Spain Rousseff met with leaders of the far-left party Podemos who have also expressed solidarity with Lula. Rousseff, a 70-year-old former Marxist-guerrilla fighter of Bulgarian roots, reiterated that she believed Lula is innocent and that the Workers' Party would not drop him as its candidate for president. "We don't have a Plan B. We maintain Lula's candidacy," she said, adding the party would fight in court to ensure he can stand in the election. Lula is set to be declared ineligible in August after having his conviction upheld once again by an appeals court. But he and his party are gambling that he could be released from prison before then and go on to contest the election. Many in Brazil revere the former trade union leader for lifting tens of millions out of poverty during his 2003-2010 time in office. But many others see him as emblematic of the graft that plagues Brazilian politics. He was found guilty last year of accepting a luxury seaside apartment from a construction group that picked up government public works contracts. Brazil's Supreme Court is currently considering the laws that have put Lula behind bars while his lawyers are still pursuing appeals. A vote by the court's justices could take place on Wednesday. If it goes ahead, Lula could be released -- for now -- or remain in his cell.