Brazil's Bolsonaro says 'mission still not over' in speech to US CPAC
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland (Reuters) - Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Saturday his mission was "still not over" after leading Latin America's largest country for one term, indicating he could be planning a potential fresh run in 2026.
Addressing the U.S. CPAC conservative conference being held near Washington, Bolsonaro, currently in self-imposed exile in Florida after losing his re-election bid last year, did not mention when he planned to return to Brazil, despite being asked by his party to lead the right-wing opposition.
"I thank God for the mission of being president of Brazil for one term. But I feel deep inside that this mission is still not over," Bolsonaro said in a speech.
Bolsonaro has refused to concede defeat to leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and faces mounting legal jeopardy in Brazil in various criminal and electoral probes.
The far-right leader received ovations from the conservative audience when he mentioned his steps to ease gun ownership regulations and his anti-abortion and anti-vaccine stances.
He questioned the results of the Brazilian elections of last October, saying he could not understand how the ballot numbers did not reflect the support he appeared to have on the streets.
Bolsonaro has made unfounded claims that Brazil's electronic voting system was vulnerable to fraud, spawning a violent movement of election deniers.
The former president, who holds former U.S. President Donald Trump as his political idol, boasted that he was "the last president in the world to recognize" Joe Biden's election victory in 2020. He is expected to meet Trump later on Saturday.
Bolsonaro said he would not have allowed two Iranian warships to dock in Rio de Janeiro this week, which Lula's government approved last month despite pressure from the U.S. to deny them entry.
(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo in Sao Paulo; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)