Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as Brazil’s president on Sunday, two days after his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro left the country as he refused to concede defeat, reported Reuters.

The veteran leftist took office for the third time after ousting far-right leader Bolsonaro in a highly-polarised country.

Lula, as the new president is popularly known, had won the presidential elections in Brazil in October by securing 50.3% of the vote compared with 49.7% for Bolsonaro.

However, Bolsonaro had refused to concede defeat and raised doubts on the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting system, reported the Associated Press. Following his allegations, his loyalists had called for a military coup to stop Lula from assuming the president’s role.

On Christmas Eve, a supporter of Bolsonaro was arrested for making a bomb that was found on a truck carrying aviation fuel at the country’s international airport. He had confessed that he had sought to provoke a military intervention.

Security was beefed up on Sunday ahead of Lula’s swearing-in ceremony at the Planalto Palace, the president’s office.

In his inauguration speech, Lula said that it was not a victory for him but for democracy, that overcame “the most violent threats to freedom to vote, and the most abject campaign of lies and hate plotted to manipulate and embarrass the electorate”.

Lula, a former factory worker, also threatened Bolsonaro without naming him.

“We do not carry any spirit of revenge against those who tried to subjugate the nation to their personal and ideological designs, but we will guarantee the rule of law,” he said. “Those who erred will answer for their errors, with broad rights to their defense within the due legal process.”

The new president also said that his message to Brazil is of “hope and reconstruction”.

“The great edifice of rights, sovereignty and development that this nation built has been systematically demolished in recent years,” he added. “To re-erect this edifice, we are going to direct all our efforts.”

During his time as president, Bolsonaro had pushed nationalistic rhetoric and promoted anti-gender and anti-LGBTQ ideology, aiming to focus on supposed traditional family values. Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest had increased during Bolsonaro’s tenure, and violent attacks on indigenous lands and individuals saw an uptick.

A Senate Investigative Committee had also found that Bolsonaro committed nine crimes in relation to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including crimes against humanity.

He is facing court-ordered investigations for claiming that coronavirus vaccines may increase the chances of contracting AIDS as well as for alleged corruption in a health ministry contract to buy 20 million (2 crore) doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by India’s Bharat Biotech.

Bolsonaro is presently in Florida, United States.

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How Jair Bolsonaro introduced a populist right-wing movement to Brazil – like the one India has too