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Brazil cancels invite for EU observers after Bolsonaro objection

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By Reuters
Brazil cancels invite for EU observers after Bolsonaro objection
Brazil cancels invite for EU observers after Bolsonaro objection   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

By Anthony Boadle and Ricardo Brito

BRASILIA -Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court(TSE) has canceled an invitation for the European Union to send observers for the October election after President Jair Bolsonaro’s government objected, two sources and an EU spokesman said on Tuesday.

The TSE, Brazil’s top election authority, told Reuters last month that it had invited the European Union for the first time to observe this year’s general election, when Bolsonaro will seek re-election.

Two days later the foreign ministry objected, saying Brazil has never had its elections “evaluated by an international organization of which it is not a member”.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said the invitation has been canceled. The TSE did not immediately comment, but a statement is expected later on Tuesday.

Bolsonaro has questioned the validity of Brazil’s electronic voting system and made baseless allegations of fraud in the 2018 race, stirring concerns that he may not accept the results of the October election.

The EU said it had received an invitation letter from the TSE in March to send a team to explore the “usefulness, advisability and feasibility” of having an observation mission for the first time in Brazil for the elections.

“However, the TSE has since advised us that they will not pursue their request from March, due to reservations expressed by the Brazilian government,” Peter Stano, spokesman for foreign affairs for the European Commission, said. “Under these circumstances, we will not send an exploratory mission to Brazil to assess a possible EU observer mission.”

Other international groups and institutions invited to send observers include the Organization of American States (OAS), the U.S.-based Carter Center, the parliament of South American trade bloc Mercosur and the Washington-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

Opinion polls show leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has a comfortable lead over Bolsonaro, though his advantage has been eroded in recent surveys.

Bolsonaro joked about observer missions last week, telling supporters he wanted to give the elections “an air of legality” by inviting foreign observers who, he said, would just watch.