Brazil governors concerned over Bolsonaro support among military police

  • World
  • Wednesday, 25 Aug 2021

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on before welcoming Guinea-Bissau's President Umaro Sissoco Embalo at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, August 24, 2021. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's state governors are concerned about military police turning out in support of President Jair Bolsonaro in an upcoming march, minutes published on Tuesday showed, as the far-right former army captain continues to sow doubt about next year's presidential election.

Their concerns came to light in minutes of a Monday meeting of governors in Brasilia, in which they discussed a worsening political crisis in Brazil, as Bolsonaro picks fights with the Supreme Court and federal electoral authorities, and questions the credibility of the country's elections.

Of Brazil's 27 governors, 25 signed the minutes expressing concern about the high level of support for the president among the country's roughly 500,000 military police, who report to state governors.

Active-duty military police are prohibited from making political demonstrations, but many are expected to show up at Sept 7 marches in support of Bolsonaro.

Critics say Bolsonaro, who trails former leftist President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in most opinion polls, is seeking to marshal cops' support ahead of next year's vote.

His attacks on the electoral process have sparked fears he may not accept a potential loss. There is growing concern in Brazil about what role the armed forces and state police could play if Bolsonaro were to reject the election result.

Most experts believe the armed forces would defend the constitution and prioritize the peaceful handover of power, but some fear that state police officers could go on strike, essentially making the day-to-day running of states impossible for governors.

"It is essential to reaffirm the governors' commitment to ensure that the mission of the state police takes place within constitutional and legal limits," the minutes signed by 25 governors say.

The topic of Bolsonaro's support among military police was brought to the meeting by Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, a centrist rival to the president. On Monday, he fired a senior state police officer who posted publicly about his support of the president and his plans to appear at the march.

Doria said the upcoming "noisy demonstrations ... put democracy at risk."

A prosecutor in Brazil's capital on Monday requested word from the Military Police commander on what measures will be taken on Sept. 7 to secure the Congress and Supreme Court buildings, which some Bolsonaro supporters threaten to occupy.

Prosecutor Flavio Milhomem also asked the Military Police intelligence agency for any information on anti-democratic acts practiced by active duty and retired officers in the service.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; additional reporting by Anthony Boadle; writing by Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Pullin)

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