Fernando Haddad (center) was named the Worker's Party's presidential candidate Tuesday after jailed ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva withdrew from the race. Photo by Hedeson Alves/EPA
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Jailed former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva formally withdrew from the country's presidential election on Tuesday.
Lula's Worker's Party, or Partidos dos Trabahlhadores, announced the 72-year-old would abandon his presidential bid and his running mate, Fernando Haddad, would instead be the party's presidential candidate, The Guardian reported.
Worker's Party president Gleisi Hoffmann said Lula requested the change be made "so as not leave Brazil and the Brazilian people without an alternative."
"We always believed Lula's candidacy was essential to take Brazil out of the crisis and that is why we fought so hard for him," Hoffman said. "But unfortunately ... Lula's rights were not respected ... This is a moment of pain, indignation and anger for the PT ... but indignation, pain and revolt have always been part of our trajectory."
The announcement comes nearly two weeks after Brazil's top electoral court ruled Lula wasn't eligible to run as he serves a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering.
Lula penned an open letter that was read aloud to the crowd outside the federal police headquarters in Curitiba, where he's been held since April, urging the party's followers to turn their support to Haddad.
"We are already millions of Lula's and from now on, Haddad will be Lula for millions of Brazilians," he wrote.
"Fernando Haddad ... will be my representative in this battle," Lula added. "If they think they can silence our voice and defeat our project for this country they are very mistaken."
Haddad, 55, expressed that he also felt pain that the party's supporters would be unable to vote for Lula.
"It is a pain felt by the country's poorest people ... people who did not have access to even a plate of food [before Lula came to power]," he said. "Lula -- our Lula, our friend, our dear Lula -- represented and continues to represent a watershed in Brazilian history."