Brazil to deploy military troops to guard voters in Rio slums

Brazilian security forces raise their flag in Rocinha.

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil's Defense Ministry said troops will be used to ensure peaceful voting and campaigning in Rio's slums ahead of next week's municipal elections.

The ministry said in a statement on its website that army and marine troops will start being deployed on Monday in crime-heavy slums in the north and west ends of the city, reported the Associated Press. They will only be stationed in the slums from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the end of voting on October 7.

Carmen Lucia, head of the Superior Electoral Tribunal, said the troops are being used to "guarantee Brazil's democratic normalcy," according to the AP.

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"We want people — both candidates and voters — to be able to express themselves freely, guaranteeing the democratic freedom we enjoy in Brazil," Lucia continued, said Reuters.

President Dilma Rousseff still has to approve the troop deployment, which was decided by Defense Minister Celso Amorim and Lucia.

According to Reuters, 20 political parties are competing for mayoral and local council seats in 5565 towns and cities across Brazil. In Latin America, it is common for troops to guard elections.

Reuters also noted that these elections are a test for Rousseff's ruling Workers Party (PT) support. While the president's approval ratings are at a record high, her party's popularity is not equal to hers, as a vote-buying corruption scandal has plagued the political organization.