Brazil: Lula pulls out of presidential race

luiz-inacio-lula-afp (FILE) Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts during a meeting with artists at Oi Casa Grande Theater in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | AFP

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has pulled out of next month's presidential election despite being one of the leading candidates.

The 72-year-old leader is serving a 12-year sentence for a corruption conviction but had gone ahead to file his nomination for the race. Two weeks ago, Lula was barred from the presidential race by the electoral court due to his conviction.

A few days ago, Jair Bolsonaro, another leading presidential candidate, was stabbed at a rally. He is still recovering from the attack.

Lula's decision to withdraw from the election was announced by the Workers' Party leader Gleisi Hoffman. A letter written by Lula in his prison cell was read out to his supporters who were camping outside the jail for five months demanding his freedom.

In the letter, the former president, who governed from January 2003 until December 2010, said he would not run in the election scheduled for 7 October. He also named Fernando Haddad as the man to step into the breach, the BBC said.

The decision to withdraw from the election was taken after a lengthy battle with the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) which on August 31 ruled that he was "ineligible" to run for the presidency. Though the decision has been appealed the Supreme Court is yet to rule on it.