BRASILIA (AFP) - Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in on Thursday (March 17) as chief of staff to his embattled successor Dilma Rousseff amid angry protests from opponents who accuse him of trying to dodge corruption charges.
Lula took office in a tumultuous scene at the presidential palace, where a protester shouted "Shame!" and the ex-president's supporters chanted slogans accusing their opponents of seeking a "coup."
"The putschists' shouting won't make me veer from my path or bring us to our knees," said Rousseff as she sealed her risky bet to team up again with her old mentor.
Lula, the once wildly popular president who led Brazil from 2003 to 2011, is facing corruption charges and a request for his arrest in connection with an explosive scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras.
He now escapes possible arrest thanks to his new ministerial immunity. Under Brazilian law, cabinet ministers can only be tried before the Supreme Court.
The Sao Paulo stock market, meanwhile, shot up five percent at the opening on optimism that the controversial appointment marks the beginning of the end for the leftist government, which is presiding over the worst recession in 25 years.
"The market is celebrating the end of this government," said economic analyst Andre Leite of TAG Investimentos.