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Majority of Brazilians Believe Lula Is Involved in Kickback Scandal

The head of Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party has resigned, amid a corruption scandal that has shaken the party’s standing and the government.

Three other high-level officials resigned earlier over allegations the ruling party bribed lawmakers.


The president of Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party, José Genoí­no, resigned Saturday following magazine reports that he was linked to a growing corruption scandal.


The Workers Party has been accused of bribing federal lawmakers for their support on key congressional votes.


One lawmaker came forward last month and said the ruling party was paying some officials more than $12,000 a month using private funds.


Mr. Genoí­no was implicated after an assistant to his brother, a Workers’ Party official at the state level, was found to be carrying $184,000 in cash at an airport, and was arrested.


Mr. Genoí­no denied an wrongdoing by him or his party. He says the party does not engage in any irregularities, nor does it buy or pay lawmakers.


The Workers’ Party has long prided itself on honesty in a country where political corruption runs rampant. In the past, party leaders often criticized previous administrations for allowing corruption to continue unchecked.


The scandal is the worst setback for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva since he assumed office in January 2003. Three other party leaders, including the president’s former chief of staff José Dirceu, have also resigned.


Mr. da Silva has not been personally implicated in the scandal, but a recent poll showed 55% of Brazilians think the president is involved. The president is expected to seek re-election in 2006.


Following Mr. Genoí­no’s resignation, the party elected Education Minister Tarso Genro to replace him as party leader.


Mr. Genro said he remains confident in the president and the party. “I have absolute faith in the integrity of my colleagues and the president,” said the new party chief.


Restoring confidence in the party may not be easy. The recent opinion poll showed that nearly half of those interviewed do not believe the party is honest.


VoA

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