Bolsonaro heads home to lead opposition against Brazil's leftist President Lula da Silva

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is set to return to the country after a self-imposed exile stint in Florida in an effort to lead the opposition to leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. 

Reuters reported that thousands of supporters are predicted to show up at Brasilia’s airport in a show of support for Bolsonaro. Authorities have apparently increased security, including closing traffic off around the capital mall in an effort to prevent risks of riots.

Bolsonaro has downplayed his leadership role, suggesting that he will use his political experience to help the Liberal Party campaign in local elections. He went on to say that his October loss was a closed chapter, saying: “We have turned a page, and now we will prepare for next year’s election.”

There have been a series of legal probes that have focused  on Bolsonaro’s criticism of Brazil’s voting system. He has also been blamed for allegedly encouraging supporters to storm government infrastructure on January 8.

Bolsonaro reportedly left Brazil just prior to the end of his presidential term, thereby breaking with tradition by handing over the presidential sash to President Lula da Silva, who claimed victory in the October election. Lula da Silva’s victory was the narrowest the country has had since it became a democracy almost 30 years ago, per NBC News.

The former president has apparently kept a low profile during his time in the US, though he has delivered speeches to Brazilian expats and at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. 

The report also noted that this is the first time in 30 years that Bolsonaro does not hold elected office, with Bolsonaro adding: “I’m without a mandate, but I’m not retired.”

Though the former president was expected to talk to lawmakers on Thursday, his party has reportedly suggested that he did not plan to give a speech.

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