Bolsonaro returning to Brazil for first time since 8 January riots

International Desk Published: 30 March 2023, 10:36 AM
Bolsonaro returning to Brazil for first time since 8 January riots
Jair Bolsonaro gave an interview to a CNN Brasil journalist at Orlando airport before boarding his flight home.

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is on his way back to Brazil, after spending months in the US.

The far-right politician is returning for the first time since supporters stormed the Supreme Court, Congress and presidential palace in January, reports BBC. 

The riots came after weeks of protests claiming fraud in his defeat to President to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Speaking at an airport in Florida before boarding a flight, he said he would not lead the opposition to Lula.

But in an interview with CNN, Mr Bolsonaro also said he would help his Liberal Party as a "person with experience" and that he intended to travel across Brazil to campaign in next year's local elections.

After arriving in the terminal in Orlando, he spoke and took pictures with throngs of supporters.

Mr Bolsonaro is scheduled to land in the Brazilian capital Brasília early on Thursday local time (three hours behind GMT).

The former president faces numerous legal challenges on his return, including an investigation into whether he incited rioters who stormed key government buildings a week after Lula's inauguration.

He left the country in December before his successor was sworn in, travelling to Florida and applying for a six-month US tourist visa.

Mr Bolsonaro narrowly lost the presidential election last October to his left-wing rival, which led to unsubstantiated claims by his supporters of voting fraud - eventually escalating into the violent scenes in the capital.

He has voiced "regret" for the unrest but denies he caused it.

However, Brazil's Supreme Court has agreed to include him in its investigation into the storming of government buildings on 8 January.

On that day thousands of radical Bolsonaro supporters, who continue to say the election was rigged, stormed the country's Supreme Court, Congress and presidential palace in Brasília.

They had been camping in and around the city for weeks calling for a military coup and more than 1,200 people are being charged over the riot.

In February, Brazilian Senator Marcos do Val said Mr Bolsonaro was at a meeting in December about a plot to keep him in power, alleging he was asked to get the head of the electoral authority to compromise himself to discredit the presidential election.

Neither he nor his representatives have yet commented on Mr do Val's remarks.