July 22, 2018 / 7:04 PM / 10 months ago

Brazil presidential frontrunner Bolsonaro officially confirms candidacy

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 22 (Reuters) - Right-wing Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro vowed to support the sale of assets by state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA on Sunday, as he received the official confirmation of his candidacy by his party’s convention.

Bolsonaro is leading early opinion polls ahead of October elections, with leftist Ciro Gomes challenging the more moderate Marina Silva for second place. The numbers exclude jailed but still popular ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. .

Bolsonaro told journalists at a news conference that he was supportive of Petrobras’ ongoing sale of assets, but that “it’s too early” to discuss the possibility of a full privatization.

Indebted Petrobras is working to sell $21 billion in assets over two years. Earlier this month, it was forced to suspend major asset sales after a Supreme Court justice ruled that Congress must approval any privatizations.

Bolsonaro also said he would support a reduction in the number of government ministries.

A former army captain, Bolsonaro is running on a tough law and order platform advocating looser gun controls, which has won him widespread support among Brazil’s agriculture sector.

No announcement was officially made during the convention on Bolsonaro’s running mate. Janaina Paschoal, a lawyer from his party, said that she had been invited.

Bolsonaro, who is openly supportive of Brazil’s 1964-85 military government, has seized on growing voter disillusionment after years of political and economic crises, stoked by investigations that revealed stunning levels of political graft. (Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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