Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva‘s inauguration will be secured by “100 percent” of the capital district’s police force, an official said Tuesday amid widespread fears of violence.
Over the weekend, a man was arrested after allegedly placing explosives in a fuel truck near Brasilia’s airport, hoping to sow “chaos” ahead of the inauguration Sunday.
The suspect was a supporter of Brazil‘s outgoing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, and told authorities he wanted to “prevent the establishment of communism in Brazil” under leftist Lula.
The device did not explode.
On Sunday “there will be a mobilization of 100 percent of the police forces of the Federal District (of Brasilia) to ensure the safety not only of the president, but also of foreign delegations and the public,” Lula’s future security minister Flavio Dino told reporters.
Lula backers have expressed fear on social media of riots or attacks on inauguration day, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to attend events in Brasilia.
But Dino sought to give assurances the event will be “safe” and “peaceful,” encouraging Brazilians to turn out to celebrate.
He added there had been “no change” to plans for the ceremony, in response to speculation that Lula might do his inauguration parade in a closed car instead of the traditional vintage convertible.
After Lula defeated Bolsonaro with 50.9 percent of the vote in a runoff election in October, supporters of the vanquished president blocked roads and demonstrated outside military barracks demanding the armed forces prevent Lula’s inauguration.
On December 12, pro-Bolsonaro demonstrators clashed with the police and set fire to buses and cars in Brasilia.
“Small terrorist and extremist groups will not put the institutions of Brazilian democracy up against a wall,” said Dino.
Bolsonaro, who has limited his public appearances after the defeat, has not confirmed that he will follow the tradition of handing over the presidential sash to Lula at Sunday’s ceremony.