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Bolsonaro, Lula trade corruption barbs in last Brazil election debate

  • 30 Sep 2022

Incumbent Jair Bolsonaro calls his rival Lula da Silva boss of a criminal gang, with the latter dubbing the president a "shameless" liar, in a debate that sees little discussion on proposals to govern the South American country.

Centrist candidate Simone Tebet scolds both men for exchanging personal attacks instead of discussing unemployment and rising hunger in the country. ( AP )

Brazil's leading presidential candidates have traded accusations of corruption in the last debate before the election, with little discussion of proposals to govern the South American country.

Incumbent right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday called his leftist rival, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the boss of a criminal gang that ran a "kleptocracy" during his two-term presidency 2003-2010.

Lula, who has a comfortable double-digit lead going into the first round of voting, called Bolsonaro a "shameless" liar whose government had covered up graft in the purchase of vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic that killed more than 680,000 Brazilians.

He told Bolsonaro to "look in the mirror" if he wanted to see corruption, notably citing graft allegations against his senator son Flavio and his ex-education minister, accused of demanding kickbacks for influential evangelical churches.

READ MORE: Bolsonaro backer 'axes' Lula fan to death as Brazil election nears

Lula leading race

Centrist candidate Simone Tebet, of the Brazilian Democratic Movement party scolded both men for exchanging personal attacks instead of focusing on proposals to solve the high unemployment and rising hunger in the country.

The debate was run by TV Globo in Rio de Janeiro.

Major opinion polls show Lula with a lead of about 10-15 percentage points over Bolsonaro ahead of the first round of voting.

Pollster Datafolha said Lula has 50 percent of the valid votes, excluding blank and null ballots, and could win the election outright on Sunday, avoiding a second-round runoff.

Lula has urged Brazilians loyal to any of the minority candidates to rather cast a "tactical" vote for him, and against Bolsonaro.

The incumbent president got a celebrity boost on Thursday for his re-election bid from football superstar Neymar, who posted a video on TikTok of himself dancing to a pro-Bolsonaro campaign song.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly rejected the accuracy of polls that keep him behind Lula and hinted he would challenge any result in which Lula is the winner, saying last weekend: "We are the majority. We will win in the first round."

READ MORE: Brazil judge restricts gun access as fears grow of violence in elections

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