Former President Jair Bolsonaro has returned to Brazil where he is the subject of several investigations, including his alleged role in encouraging protests that ended with his supporters storming several government buildings.
The 68 year old man former far-right president had been in exile in Florida for three months, but has now returned to Brazil for the first time since leaving office.
He aims to lead the right-wing opposition to the left-wing president Lula da Silvawho defeated him in the October elections.
Hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters dressed in yellow and green and sang for him as they waited in the capital Brasilia on Thursday.
The Federal District Security Secretariat has mobilized hundreds of police and the Ministries Plaza, where government buildings are based, has been closed to prevent gatherings of its supporters.
The storming of government buildings in January, which has been compared to the 2021 United States Capitol riotsweeks of protests over Mr. Bolsonaro’s defeat to Mr. da Silva followed.
The former president claimed the election result was not legitimate and is accused of encouraging rioters to target government buildings.
Mr da Silva, who previously served as president from 2003 to 2011, won the election with 50.9% of the vote.
Mr Bolsonaro then left Brazil just before the end of his presidential term, breaking with tradition by refusing to hand over the presidential sash to his successor.
The former president is being investigated over an alleged attempt to import and retain $3.2m (£2.6m) jewelry gifts from Saudi Arabia which were seized by customs officials in 2021 because they had not been declared.
Mr Bolsonaro also faces legal challenges for anti-democratic statements he made while president, including several unfounded allegations that the electoral system was open to fraud.
If found guilty in any of these cases, he would lose his political rights and would not be able to stand in the next elections.
Riots in Brazil – how the storming of Congress unfolded
In the United States, Mr. Bolsonaro has mostly kept a low profile, although he has given several speeches to Brazilian expats and conservatives, including at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.
The lawmaker-turned-president is currently out of elected office for the first time in 30 years.
“I’m without a warrant, but I’m not retired,” he told Brazilian TV channel Jovem Pan on Monday.
His return to Brazil has been repeatedly delayed, and some had speculated he could postpone indefinitely in light of his legal troubles.
Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of Donald Trump and seen as a global far-right strategist, told Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo this week that Mr. Bolsonaro should never have left the country and rejected the importance of surveys.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s first objective will be to rally the opposition to Mr. da Silva’s government, said Mayra Goulart da Silva, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Next year’s municipal elections are an important step towards political momentum for a possible presidential election in 2026.
Mr Bolsonaro is expected to lend his support to the mayoral candidates of his liberal party.