No coup risk for Brazil, from his side, Bolsonaro says

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –


President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been seeking to sow doubt about the legitimacy of 2022 elections, said Friday there was "no risk" of a coup d'etat in Brazil -- at least from him.

He also told the Veja weekly newspaper he would not "mess with" the vote.

Bolsonaro, whose popularity is at an all-time low, has for months been criticizing the country's electronic voting system ahead of elections next year and has launched numerous verbal attacks on the judges of the Supreme Court.

He has been working to fire up his voter base in the face of a flagging economy, soaring unemployment and inflation, and a series of investigations targeting him and his inner circle.

Bolsonaro's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been the rallying point for multiple protests against him, and has been judged "criminal" by the opposition.

Last week, the NGO Human Rights Watch warned the president was "threatening democratic rule" with his attacks on the electoral system and judges.

He told Veja, in an interview published Friday, that: "From my side, there is no risk of a coup d'etat."

But Bolsonaro insisted that "from the other (side) there is always this possibility," citing more than 100 bids for his impeachment pending before parliament.

- Covid claiming the 'obese' -

The president drew much criticism for an Independence Day rally on September 7 at which he fired off a warning at the Supreme Court, which has ordered an investigation of him, saying it would "suffer the consequences" unless it backed off.

He later rowed back on the comments, also telling Veja he had "exaggerated a bit" in the heat of the moment.

In that address, Bolsonaro had also threatened not to recognize the 2022 election results which he said would be "a farce" unless the electronic voting system in place since 1996 is changed.

He told Veja: "Don't worry, the election will take place, I will not mess with it."

Bolsonaro, who has railed against mask-wearing and other coronavirus braking measures, insisted in the interview he had "not committed the slightest error" in managing the health crisis that has claimed nearly 600,000 lives in Brazil -- a toll second only to the United States.

"I was criticized when I said that staying at home was not the solution... Today, studies show that the ones who die most from the coronavirus are the obese and those who are afraid. Everyone gained weight by staying home," he said.

"History will show that the steps we have taken have saved people," the president said.