Judge orders arrest of ex-Brazilian President

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Even when Brazilian ex president Lula da Silva was described as facing Judge Sergio Moro's Friday jailing decision calmly, the big question now is what follows for the presidential candidate and the Workers Party chances ahead of the coming October presidential election.

Left-wing sympathizers, remembering Lula's achievement in lifting tens of millions out of poverty during his 2003-2011 years in office, see a plot created to prevent him becoming president again. He is the front-running candidate despite his conviction.

In a statement, Moro said he was giving Da Silva the opportunity to come in of his own accord because he had been Brazil's president. On January 24, an appeals court rejected a motion to overturn his conviction for money laundering and accepting bribes.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva leaves the Lula Institute after a judge issues a warrant for his arrest.

Lula had pleaded with the country's supreme court to remain free until he had exhausted all his appeals, but the judges ruled by six to five against his request after 10 hours of debate.

Moro ordered Lula to turn himself in to the authorities in Curitiba, capital of Parana State, before 5 p.m.

"Lula continues to be our candidate, because he is innocent, and because he is the leading candidate to become the next president of Brazil", said Workers Party leader, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann.

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Lula, who grew up poor and with little formal education before becoming a trade union leader and politician, says he will go down fighting.

Ciro Gomes, another left-wing politician from the Democratic Labor Party, who served as the minister for national integration under Lula's administration, could also seek PT support, with his campaign issues focusing on defending national sovereignty and Brazil's independence on the world stage.

The appeal would nearly certainly be quickly rejected and Lula, once one of the world's most popular politicians, would be ordered to start his sentence immediately.

The current president, Michel Temer, avoided standing trial before the supreme court a year ago when allies in congress shielded him from charges of corruption, obstructing justice and links to organised crime.

Earlier Thursday, the head of Brazil's Workers' Party warned that jailing da Silva would turn Latin America's largest nation into a "banana republic".

But opponents and prosecutors believe he is properly being punished for high-level corruption revealed through an epic "Car Wash" graft probe that has rocked Brazilian politics and business over the past four years. In August, the country's top electoral court makes final decisions about candidacies. During the impeachment trials against Rousseff in 2016, many demonstrations were small despite calls by major unions to take to the streets.

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