'Most popular politician on earth' barred from running for president

Jair Bolsonaro a far-right contender at a rally in Porto Alegre. He is second in the polls

Jair Bolsonaro a far-right contender at a rally in Porto Alegre. He is second in the pollsDIEGO VARA REUTERS

But barring dramatic events - the judges can reconsider their decision after the vote of the last two magistrates - the former president, who is best known as Lula, cannot run for a third term.

However the former president and his Workers' Party argue he should be able to run while he pursues further appeals. The statement was released after most TSE ministers chose to ignore a decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and deprive former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of his right to run as a presidential candidate for the upcoming elections.

Brazil's top electoral court has ruled that jailed former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can not run as a candidate in the presidential election because of his corruption conviction.

Mr da Silva, 72, has been incarcerated since April for accepting a bribe, but remained the front runner among Brazilians to win the election.

Lula's party vowed to continue to fight for his candidacy. Lula earlier said he would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

"We will defend Lula in the streets, with the people, because he is a candidate of hope".

Lula was found guilty in July 2017 and then lost a first appeal in January.

He vehemently denies the accusations and has dismissed the charges as a political plot aimed at preventing him from standing in the elections.

Despite his conviction and several graft cases pending against him, Lula leads the race by a long stretch, with 39% of voter support, according to pollster Datafolha.

Brazil's Workers' Party (PT) later responded to the court's decision in a statement, saying it would "fight by all means" for Lula's candidacy.

The end of Lula's candidacy opens the electoral field to runner-up Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing congressman and former soldier whose platform includes gun legalization and weaker environmental regulations.

The party has until 17 September to swap their names on the ballot, though the court gave it ten days to make the change.

Supporters of Brazilian former president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva have demonstrated a vigil outside the Federal Police Superintendence in Curitiba, Brazil on Friday.

With da Silva out of the race, former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad was expected to take his place on the Workers' Party ticket. Polls show tepid support for his bid as da Silva's replacement, but the party hopes the latter's popularity could boost the former mayor's hopes.

The court could also rule on Friday on a request by the conservative Partido Novo to exclude Lula from the television and radio ads campaign.

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