News In Brief

Huge rally in Rio urges direct Brazilian elections

Brazilian opposition leaders said Wednesday 1 million people took part in a rally to demand direct elections in the country's biggest demonstration since the military ousted the last civilian government 20 years ago.

The rally on Tuesday, attended by 500,000, according to police estimates, was a high note in a popular campaign for direct elections.

On April 25, Congress will debate a proposed constitutional amendment that would have a successor to President Gen. Joao Figueiredo elected by direct popular vote rather than by the electoral college, controlled by the military-backed ruling party. The amendment has virtually no chance of passing, according to federal legislators.

Opinion polls show more than 9 out of 10 voters support the demand for direct presidential voting. The slogan ''Direct Elections Now'' has appeared on everything from bumper stickers to jogging shirts.

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