BRASILIA: Police in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, said on Tuesday that a backpack found near where President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was staying that had prompted a bomb scare contained only personal belongings.
News of the bomb squad being called into action just days before Lula takes office underscores the nervy atmosphere in Brasilia after the most fraught election in a generation.
On Dec 24, Brasilia police said they had foiled a bomb plot, arresting a man with ties to a group of pro-Bolsonaro election deniers camped outside the army headquarters, who have been urging the military to overturn Lula’s victory.
George Washington Sousa, who confessed to making the device and plotting with other camp-dwellers to detonate it, said he had hoped that the bomb would “provoke a military intervention… to prevent the installation of communism in Brazil.”
Earlier in December, a group from the encampment tried to invade the federal police headquarters after the arrest of a pro-Bolsonaro indigenous leader for alleged anti-democratic threats.
The political tensions in the capital have prompted Lula’s team to beef up security protocols for Sunday’s inauguration, incoming justice minister Flavio Dino said on Monday.
On Tuesday, Dino said the transition team will ask the Supreme Court to suspend the carrying of firearms in Brasilia for the next few days.
Since Jair Bolsonaro began loosening gun laws in 2019, the number of registered gun-owners has surged sixfold to around 700,000 people.
“We will ask Justice Alexandre de Moraes… to suspend the carrying of firearms in the Federal District between tomorrow (Wednesday) and Jan 2 or 3,” Dino told journalists.
“The goal is that even people who have permits… have this suspension by court order, so that any carrying (of firearms) in this period will be considered a crime.”