Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday officially withdrew from the presidential election race after the country’s electoral court barred him from contesting the poll because of his conviction in a corruption case. Workers’ Party Senator Gleisi Hoffmann said Fernando Haddad will be the leftist party’s new candidate for the October 7 polls.

Luiz Eduardo Greenhalgh, a founding member of the Workers’ Party, read out a letter from Da Silva to the former president’s supporters, who have been holding a demonstration outside the federal police headquarters where he is lodged. “A man can be unjustly imprisoned, but not his ideas,” Lula wrote in the letter. “We are millions of Lulas and from today Fernando Haddad will be Lula for millions of Brazilians.”

Da Silva has consistently refuted the charges against him and described the allegations as a political crime. The case he was convicted in was part of a massive investigation centred on state-owned oil company Petrobras, which has led to several convictions. Current President Michael Temer could also be involved, and is facing corruption charges.

Da Silva is serving a 12-year sentence after he was convicted. The 72-year-old is considered one of Brazil’s most popular politicians, and had over 80% approval ratings when he left office in 2011, The Guardian reported. Former United States President Barack Obama had once called Da Silva the “most popular politician on earth”.