Brazil’s presidential candidate stabbed

FRONT-RUNNER::Jair Bolsonaro was listed in stable condition after surgery, while his alleged attacker, who said he was acting on orders from God, was arrested

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

Sat, Sep 08, 2018 - Page 7

Brazilian presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday was stabbed and seriously injured while campaigning, with police saying the suspect claimed to be acting on orders from God.

It was the latest twist in a presidential race in which the most popular candidate, former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is trying to run from prison.

The Brazilian Supreme Court on Thursday disqualified Lula.

First-round voting is scheduled for Oct. 7.

Bolsonaro underwent surgery for multiple wounds to his midsection and was listed in stable condition after the attack during a walkabout in the southeastern city of Juiz de Fora.

Images shared on social media and Brazilian television showed Bolsonaro being carried on the shoulders of a throng of supporters, before a man lunges at his stomach.

A witness told police the attacker held a knife wrapped up in a shirt and attacked Bolsonaro as the group hoisting him walked by.

The alleged attacker was arrested immediately.

He was identified as Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, 40, and is said to have been a member of the PSOL party from 2007 to 20014.

After his arrest, Bispo de Oliveira said he was “carrying out a divine mission, a mission from God,” said Luis Boundens, head of a union of federal police officers.

Authorities were investigating the suspect’s mental health, Boundens said.

De Oliveira acted “for religious reasons, for political reasons and also because of the prejudice Bolsonaro has always shown when he talks about race, religion and even women,” said his lawyer, Pedro Augusto Lima Possa.

On Facebook, De Oliveira recently posted messages criticizing Bolsonaro and supporting the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Earlier, one of the candidate’s sons, Flavio Bolsonaro, had announced on Twitter that his father’s wounds were “superficial,” but he later wrote: “Unfortunately, it’s more serious than we thought.”

Brazilian President Michel Temer condemned the attack and instructed Brazilian Minister of Security Raul Jungmann to reinforce security for candidates and conduct “a rigorous investigation,” a spokesman for the presidency told reporters.

“It is intolerable to see that in a democratic state it is not possible to have a normal campaign,” Temer said.

With Lula da Silva ruled out of the election, the latest polls from the Ibope Institute put Jair Bolsonaro in the lead with 22 percent compared with 12 percent each for candidates Marina Silva and Ciro Gomes.

One of Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign pledges has been to legalize the carrying of weapons to combat rising violent crime.

Despite being a long-serving member of the Brazilian Congress, Jair Bolsonaro has presented himself as an outsider, untouched by the corruption scandals engulfing so much of the political elite.

Perhaps the message that carries furthest is Jair Bolsonaro’s push for more action on crime in a country where police are already often engaged in low-level wars against gangs.

About 64,000 people die in homicides in Brazil every year.

He has courted controversy with comments attacking women and sexual minorities, as well as for praising the nation’s 1964-1985 military government.

Jair Bolsonaro has a social media following of 8.5 million people.