Lula comeback: a new dawn for Brazil and Africa

APA-Dakar (Senegal)

After four years of a Jair Bolsonaro indifference to Africa, the return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the presidency in Brazil has been generally hailed in the continent as heralding a new beginning with Latin America's biggest economy.

Like a phoenix rising from the land of the dead, Lula, 77 emerged from the political wilderness to complete an unlikely comeback which has shocked Brazil and the rest of the world. 

Spending time in prison from April 2018 to November 2019 due to a conviction over corruption, the leader of the Workers' Party (PT) managed a stunning comeback into the hearts and minds of his compatriots thanks in large part to the growing unpopularity of his run-off rival.

Lula had served two terms as Brazil's president between 2003 and 2010 during which relations with Africa had been very high.

On Sunday, the former metal worker beat Bolsonaro in the second round of the presidential election polling 50.90 percent of the valid votes cast against 49.10 percent for the incumbent, who was the candidate of the far right.

 Since the announcement of the results, reactions from world leaders have been pouring in thick and fast, including from Africa where Lula's victory is being singularly hailed as a harbinger of better relations with Brazil.

 Senegalese President Macky Sall, who is the current chairman of the African Union (AU) sends him “warm congratulations” and best wishes to the leftist Latin American politician.

 Guinea-Bissau's head of state, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, congratulates the former trade unionist and promises to work for solid bilateral relations between Brazil and his country.

 "Africa is delighted to work with the Brazilian government under the leadership of Mr. da Silva", says South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who commended the Brazilian people for successfully navigating this high stakes election fraught with risks.

 The enthusiasm for the African continent for Lula shown through its leaders, is not insignificant. 

During his first stint in charge of Latin America's biggest economy Lula showed particular interest in Africa, according to writer and analyst, Khalifa Mohamed Touré.

In the eight years of his presidency, Lula visited no less than 27 African countries including Senegal. 

"His conception of the social economy is being emulated on our continent", adds Mr. Touré who expects a revitalization of African-Brazilian relations on the diplomatic, economic and cultural fronts now that Lula is back in charge.

 Nicknamed the "Trump of the Tropics", in reference to ex US president Donald Trump, Brazil's defeated runoff candidate Jair Bolsonaro never set foot in Africa during his four years as president, favoring instead countries in the northern hemisphere. 

However, between 2000 and 2010, trade between Brazil and Africa increased from 4 to 20 billion dollars.

Therefore, Lula's return can only be a good thing for Africa, Khalifa M. Touré says. 

However, the third election of the septuagenarian in Brazil comes within a context of a scramble for influence in Africa by world powers. 

“It is true that Brazil has experienced an economic boom since the 1990s, becoming an economic power. He can play his part, but it will be difficult for him to assert himself from a diplomatic point of view and to be as present as countries like France, and the United States”, Mr. Touré points out.

To rekindle the almost extinguished flame between his country and Africa, Brazil's newly elected president could nevertheless take advantage of "the affection that Lula has in Africa especially among young people thanks to his interest in freedom, Pan-Africanism and estrangement from the West the analyst concludes.


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