Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

President Jair Bolsonaro faces rising pressure over coronavirus crisis, as well as alleged corruption and vaccine deal.

A majority of Brazilians say they support impeaching Jair Bolsonaro, according to a poll released on Saturday, as the country’s far-right president faces allegations of corruption and mounting pressure over his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The Datafolha survey showed 54 percent of Brazilians support a proposed move by the Brazilian lower house to open impeachment proceedings against Bolsonaro, compared to 42 percent who oppose it.

In the last Datafolha survey on the issue, released in May, supporters and opponents of impeachment were essentially tied.

Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 sceptic who has dismissed the virus as a “little flu”, has faced months of public pressure – including several large protests and a Senate inquiry – as the pandemic has ravaged Brazil, killing more than 531,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

A recent string of scandals, including questions about alleged irregularities in his government’s coronavirus vaccine procurement process and accusations of past corruption, have added to the president’s woes.

Last month, federal investigators announced they had opened an investigation into a government contract worth 1.6 billion reals ($320m) for 20 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine made by India’s Bharat Biotech, Covaxin.

The prosecutor-general’s office (PGR) cited comparatively high prices, speedy talks and pending regulatory approvals as red flags for the Bharat contract signed in February, before similar deals with Pfizer Inc and Johnson & Johnson.

Bolsonaro has been accused of failing to take “any action after being notified of the existence of a giant corruption scheme in the Health Ministry” – an allegation he denies.

In a radio interview on Saturday, Bolsonaro said he had taken measures after the officials shared their concerns about the Covaxin deal, but he did not elaborate further.

“I meet with 100 people per month about the most varied topics imaginable,” he told Radio Gaucha in southern Brazil. “I took measures in this case.”

Last week, Bolsonaro also was accused of being involved in a scheme to skim salaries of his aides while a federal deputy.

Citing what it said were audio recordings of Bolsonaro’s former sister-in-law explaining his role in the alleged racket, Brazilian website UOL reported that the racket involved hiring close associates as employees and then receiving a cut of their public salaries back from them.

The scandals are heaping pressure on the president, who is expected to face a challenge from former leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva when Brazilians head to the polls next year for presidential elections.

Thousands of people protested across Brazil last weekend to demand his resignation.

In a separate Datafolha poll, released on Thursday, 51 percent of Brazilians said they disapproved of Bolsonaro, the highest figure since he took office in January 2019.

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By Joy

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