Brazil's Bolsonaro close to picking former defense minister as running mate

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a Brazil's Banco do Brasil credit launching ceremony for truck drivers in Brasilia, Brazil, April 7, 2022. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

BRASILIA, April 11 (Reuters) - Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that there is a 90% chance that former Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto, a retired army general and one of his closest aides, will be his running mate in this year's election.

Bolsonaro is set to seek a second term in October's election, but currently trails leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in opinion polls.

Bolsonaro joined the conservative Liberal Party in November to run for re-election, and the party had hoped he would choose a politician as vice-presidential candidate to draw more votes.

Former agriculture minister and Senator Tereza Cristina Dias was proposed as a running mate option to help boost Bolsonaro's appeal to female voters.

But Bolsonaro, a former army captain before he went into politics three decades ago, prefers to continue to have a retired general to watch his back and avoid the risk of a politician who might join a move to impeach him, as happened to former president Dilma Rousseff in 2016.

Incumbent Vice President Hamilton Mourao, also a former general, is expected to run for senate representing Rio Grande do Sul state after his differences with Bolsonaro became public.

Bolsonaro scolded him for condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The president did not criticize the invasion and showed solidarity with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a visit to the Kremlin just days before as Russian troops amassed on the Ukraine border.

Campaigning for the Oct. 2 general election begins in August and Bolsonaro has yet to formally declare his candidacy.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Gabriel Araujo and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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