Brazilian left divided as far-right candidate cruises toward presidency

A supporter of Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), holds up a cardboard box depicting an electronic ballot box, during a demonstration in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in this October 14, 2018 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Brazilian left divided as far-right candidate cruises toward presidency

  • Haddad, a former PT mayor of Sao Paulo, has been unable to distance himself from the disdain many Brazilians harbor for the party’s role in corruption schemes revealed by investigators in recent years
  • Lula da Silva, is doing jail time for a corruption conviction. Videos of the event showed Cid Gomes was met with rowdy boos

SAO PAULO: Efforts to unite the Brazilian left against right-wing presidential front runner Jair Bolsonaro have snagged on internal squabbles, making it even harder to close a gap in opinion polls less than two weeks before the runoff election.
The latest poll, released by Ibope late on Monday, showed conservative firebrand Bolsonaro had a commanding lead over leftist rival Fernando Haddad, with 59 percent of valid votes against 41 percent for Haddad. The poll, details of which ran in newspaper Estado de S.Paulo on Tuesday, showed Haddad with a higher rate of “rejection” among voters ahead of the Oct. 28 runoff, due in part to dislike of his Workers Party (PT) even among fellow leftists. About 47 percent of people polled said they would never vote for him, compared with 35 percent rejecting Bolsonaro.
The bad news for Haddad came as efforts to attract the voters of Ciro Gomes, who came third in the first round of voting on Oct. 7 after a center-left campaign on the Democratic Labour Party ticket, devolved into a shouting match at a campaign event on Monday night.
At a rally in the northeastern state of Ceara, his brother and campaign manager Cid Gomes was called upon to formally endorse Haddad.
But Cid Gomes took the opportunity to call for a “mea culpa” over sprawling graft schemes orchestrated by leaders of the PT. The party’s founder, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is doing jail time for a corruption conviction. Videos of the event showed Cid Gomes was met with rowdy boos.
“You’re going to lose the election, and it’s your fault,” Cid Gomes shot back. “You morons! Lula is in prison!“
The PT held the presidency for 13 of the last 15 years and Lula remains beloved by many for his social policies, credited with easing the lives of the poor in one of the world’s most unequal countries.
Haddad, a former PT mayor of Sao Paulo, has been unable to distance himself from the disdain many Brazilians harbor for the party’s role in corruption schemes revealed by investigators in recent years.
Haddad has struggled to both stand by Lula, whom the PT considers an unjustly convicted political prisoner, and also acknowledge the party’s errors.
Bolsonaro, 63, a seven-term congressman who openly defends Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, is pitching himself as the anti-establishment candidate and appealing to voters fed up with political corruption and violent crime.


Myanmar blackout may be cover for gross human rights violations — UN investigator

Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. (AP)
Updated 23 sec ago
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Myanmar blackout may be cover for gross human rights violations — UN investigator

  • The Arakan Army is an insurgent group that recruits from the mainly Buddhist ethnic Rakhine population and is fighting for greater autonomy for the state

GENEVA: Myanmar’s army may be committing gross human rights violations under cover of a mobile phone blackout in parts of Myanmar’s Rakhine and Chin states, UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee said on Monday.
Lee, an independent expert who reports to the UN Human Rights Council on human rights in Myanmar, said nine townships had been blacked out, with no media access and serious restrictions on humanitarian organizations.
“I fear for all civilians there,” Lee said in a statement.
“I am told that the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s army) is now conducting a ‘clearance operation’, which we all know by now can be a cover for committing gross human rights violations against the civilian population.”
The statement said there were credible reports that the army helicopters carried out attacks in Minbya Township in central Rakhine on June 19, and the following day, the Arakan Army fired on a navy ship in Sittwe, killing and injuring several soldiers.
The Arakan Army is an insurgent group that recruits from the mainly Buddhist ethnic Rakhine population and is fighting for greater autonomy for the state.
The conflict has included use of heavy weaponry, airstrikes and helicopter gunships, with significant loss of life on all sides, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council earlier on Monday.
Rakhine state came to global attention after about 730,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh fleeing a military crackdown in response to militant attacks in 2017.
UN investigators have called for senior military officers to be prosecuted over allegations of mass killings, gang rapes and arson. The military denies widespread wrongdoing.
A leading telecoms operator, Telenor Group, said on Saturday that the Ministry of Transport and Communications had ordered a temporary shutdown of Internet services in conflict-torn western Myanmar, where government troops are fighting ethnic rebels.
It said the ministry had cited “disturbances of peace and use of Internet activities to coordinate illegal activities,” but a military spokesman said the army had no information about the shutdown and was not behind it.
Lee called on the government to end the mobile Internet ban.
Lee’s statement said the conflict between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw has been going on since late 2018 and has displaced more than 35,000 civilians.