Jailed former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has officially abandoned his presidential bid two weeks before the country's election, CNN reports. Brazil's Workers' Party on Tuesday replaced da Silva as its candidate for October's general election, clarifying one of the biggest question marks hanging over the vote to lead Latin America's largest nation. The party confirmed the move after a meeting of its executive committee in the southern city of Curitiba, where da Silva is jailed. Fernando Haddad, a former Sao Paulo mayor, will lead the ticket and be joined by Manuela D'Avila, a member of Brazil's Communist Party. The move, while long expected, was an acknowledgement that the party could not get da Silva, who Brazilians universally call Lula, on the ballot despite numerous attempts in the courts.
"The struggle has just begun. Let's go, Haddad! Haddad is Lula!" the Workers' Party Twitter account said. "He was a Lula minister, he is a Lula attorney and best of all: he is a friend of Lula's." The political science professor turned education minister and later politician met with da Silva Tuesday after the decision, then delivered his first speech as the candidate in front of hundreds of supporters in front the federal police building where da Silva is jailed. Da Silva is serving a 12-year sentence for trading favors with construction company Grupo OAS for the promise of a beachfront apartment. The former president, who governed between 2003 and 2010, has always denied wrongdoing, arguing this case and several others pending against him are meant to keep him off the ballot. Da Silva led polls for more than a year, but his candidacy was recently barred by the country's top electoral court. The court gave the party until Tuesday to replace da Silva. In a lengthy letter distributed by the Workers' Party, da Silva urged supporters to vote for Haddad.