Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil deploys troops in Rio favelas ahead of election

Residents watch soldiers patrolling the Fogo Cruzado slum in Rio de Janeiro ahead of Sunday's municipal elections
The armed forces say their soldiers are prepared to respond to any eventual attack by drug gangs

The Brazilian army and navy have deployed thousands of troops in some of Rio de Janeiro's poorest areas ahead of municipal elections on Sunday.

The troops will make sure the vote goes off peacefully in high-risk areas where drug traffickers and vigilante groups are still active, the authorities say.

The head of Rio's electoral court, Luiz Zveiter, said many measures had been taken to prevent intimidation.

Local elections are taking place in more than 5,000 cities across Brazil.

Nearly 140 million people over the age of 16 have been registered to vote in Sunday's first round.

A second round will he held on 28 October in cities where the leading mayoral candidate fails to get 50% of valid votes.

Mobiles banned

Many of Rio's poorest quarters, or favelas, have been occupied by army soldiers and police, ahead of the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

But in a great number of Rio's favelas drug lords are still in control.

In other communities, they have been expelled by vigilante groups known locally as militias, made up mostly of off-duty or former police officers.

People in those areas are often intimidated to vote for candidates supported by the local drug trafficker or vigilante groups leader.

"We are taking preventive measures against ballot stuffing and illicit electoral propaganda," said Mr Zveiter.

"Mobile phones will be banned in the polling booth. It will not be possible for a drug lord or a 'militiaman' to demand that people take photos of their votes."

Extra troops will be deployed to different areas of Brazil's second-largest city until the vote on Sunday.

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