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Brazil federal prosecutor appeals decision to annul Lula’s convictions

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's former President Lula attends a news conference in Sao Bernardo do Campo

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The office of Brazil’s prosecutor general on Friday appealed a Supreme Court judge’s ruling earlier this week that annulled the criminal convictions of former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

If successful, the appeal could close the door on the popular politician running in next year’s presidential election, which had become a reality after Monday’s surprise decision by Justice Edson Fachin.

Two opinion polls published on Friday, the first since Lula’s convictions were annulled, showed that President Jair Bolsonaro is still favored to win the 2022 election but his advantage has shrunk, and one said 61% do not approve of his handling of the pandemic that has taken 270,000 lives.

The survey for Exame business news magazine by pollster Ideia found that Bolsonaro would win a run-off against Lula by 7 percentage points if the vote were held today. But another poll by XP Investimentos showed him only 2 points ahead of Lula in voter intentions, 27% to 25%, as his approval ratings slip in the world’s second-deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.

The prosecutor’s office had said on Monday it would appeal. It said Lula’s convictions must be upheld in order to preserve “procedural stability and legal certainty.”

Fachin had ruled that a court in the southern city of Curitiba had lacked the authority to try Lula on corruption charges and that he must be retried in federal courts in the capital Brasilia.

Brazilian media and markets have spent the week dissecting the prospect of an ultra-polarized race between Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, and Lula, his biggest opponent on the left.

The Exame/Ideia poll, which has a margin of error of 3 percentage points, said that 54% of those surveyed opposed the annulment of Lula’s convictions.

“Lula has a very good chance of making it to a run-off, but to win he still needs to anesthetize the rejection of Brazil’s middle class,” said Ideia pollster Mauricio Moura.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu, Pedro Fonseca and Anthony Boadle; Writing by Jamie McGeever; editing by Grant McCool and Marguerita Choy)

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