Brazil's Lula sworn in for third term as president

© Silvia Izquierdo, AP

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office Sunday for a third term as Brazil's president, vowing to fight for the poor and the environment and "rebuild the country" after far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro's divisive administration.

The 77-year-old veteran leftist, who previously led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, took the oath of office before Congress, capping a remarkable political comeback for the metalworker-turned-president less than five years after he was jailed on controversial, since-quashed corruption charges.

Giving a blistering overview of the past four years under Bolsonaro -- who snubbed the ceremony, in a break with tradition -- Lula said his government would work to undo a legacy of economic decline, funding cuts in health, education and science, and the "stupidity" of plundering the nation's resources for private gain.

"Upon these terrible ruins, I pledge to rebuild the country together with the Brazilian people," he said, vowing to fight to improve life for poor Brazilians, work toward racial and gender equality, and achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, where destruction surged under Bolsonaro.

"The mandate we received, in the face of opponents inspired by fascism, will be defended through our democratic constitution. We will respond to hate with love, to lies with the truth, to terrorism and violence with the law."

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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