Tom Phillips

Rio de Janeiro (BRAZIL): With the presidential election less than two weeks away, a new scandal involving blackmail, smear campaigns and, allegedly, one of the President's closest aides and his campaign manager has arisen in Brazil. Federal police were this week investigating claims that members of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's party, the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), Portuguese for Workers' Party, were behind an attempt to ``buy proof of corruption'' against a political rival. Freud Godoy, who was responsible for Mr. Lula's security, resigned earlier this week after being accused of negotiating the purchase of a dossier implicating the frontrunner for the Governor of Sao Paulo State, Jose Serra, in the scandal, which involved the sale of ambulances at inflated prices. Mr. Lula has denied involvement in the scheme, but his presidential rival, Heloisa Helena, said the scandal was further proof that Mr. Lula was the ``great commander of this criminal organisation [the PT] capable of robbing, killing and liquidating those who threaten its project''. However, Mr. Lula is cruising towards a second term on October 1, with the latest polls predicting a first-round victory.

- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006