Brazil’s Supreme Court decided Wednesday to postpone a ruling on whether former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva can assume his post as chief of staff for his successor Dilma Rousseff, just days after the country’s lower house voted to greenlight the impeachment process against her.
Justice Teori Zavascki, one of the court's 11 judges, successfully argued that all the complaints filed against the Rousseff's appointment ought to be considered jointly, thus pushing the date back until all complaints are registered.
Last month, Lula accepted the position offered to him by Rousseff on March 17 in a bid by the president to shift away from austerity measures in efforts to stimulate the struggling economy. However, just a day later, a federal judge who had participated in anti-government protests issued an injunction to annul Lula’s appointment.
A few days later a judge on the Brazilian Supreme Court joined other high judges in ruling against Lula's nomination for the chief of staff position.
The government appealed the decision to suspend the nomination and now the full court must rule on whether he can take up the job, the highest post in Rousseff's government. The court is do to meet at 2:00 p.m. local time.
Lula, a left-wing icon and founder of the ruling Workers' Party, is accused of accepting a luxury condo and a country home as bribes from construction companies caught up in the multi-billion-dollar graft scandal that has upended Brazilian politics.
Lula’s appointment came after federal Judge Sergio Moro was given jurisdiction to rule over money laundering charges presented against Lula.
Accepting a cabinet position gives Lula immunity from Moro, though not from Brazil's Supreme Court. Lula has consistently denied any wrongdoing and argues that the allegations are politically motivated.
Opposition parties and lawmakers argue the president offered Lula the position in order to shield him from prosecution, something Rousseff and Lula flatly deny arguing that even if Lula was found guilty on any charges, the Supreme Court could still prosecute him.
The larger-than-life former president is an icon for the left in the country. During his time as president between 2003 and 2008, he pushed many economic and social reforms across the biggest country in Latin America. When he left office, he had an 80 percent approval rate.