Bolsonaro turns Brazil’s bicentennial into campaign rally

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro transformed the nation's bicentennial Wednesday into a multi-city campaign event, but didn't use his appearances to undermine the upcoming election as his opponents had feared.

Bolsonaro, who trails former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in polls before the Oct. 2 vote, drew tens of thousands of supporters to rallies in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. The armed forces put on military displays in the cities, with the president attending.

The far-right Bolsonaro has stacked his administration with military officers and repeatedly sought their support, most recently to cast doubt on the reliability of the nation's electronic voting system, which raised fears his speeches on Independence Day would be filled with fresh attacks. The far-right nationalist held back from doing so, and instead focused on attacks on da Silva and his leftist Workers' Party.

Bolsonaro compared da Silva to autocratic leftist leaders in Venezuela and Nicaragua and called Brazil's former president "a gangster."

"We will have a much better administration with us being elected, with the grace of God," the president said in a speech in Rio.

His prior efforts to sow doubt about the voting system has prompted widespread concern among his opponents that he may follow former U.S. President Donald Trump 's footsteps in rejecting election results.

Bolsonaro arrived at the military display in Brasilia accompanied by at least one of the business executives who allegedly participated in a private chat group that included comments favoring a possible coup and military involvement in politics, and who is being investigated by Federal Police for possibly financing anti-democratic acts.

The crowd, decked out in green and yellow,...

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