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Brazil's president leaves hospital after 17-day stay

President Jair Bolsonaro underwent surgery on 28 January to remove a colostomy bag and seal intestines perforated when he was stabbed in September.

In this file photo taken on November 07, 2018 Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro gestures as he delivers a joint press conference with Michel Temer after a meeting in Brasilia. Picture: AFP.

SAO PAULO - Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro left hospital on Wednesday, ending a 17-day hiatus at the helm of Latin America's biggest economy during which several high-profile political issues were put on the backburner.

Bolsonaro, 63, underwent surgery on 28 January to remove a colostomy bag and seal intestines perforated when he was stabbed in September while campaigning to be president.

His discharge date was repeatedly pushed back over the past couple of weeks as he was treated for post-op complications including vomiting, fluid buildup and a bout of pneumonia.

A convoy took him from the Sao Paulo hospital he had convalesced into the airport where an air force plane flew him to the capital Brasilia. A photo posted by his office showed Bolsonaro smiling as he walked down a corridor with officials in tow.

The far-right leader, a former paratrooper, had sought to project an image of still being in charge from his hospital bed.

But jockeying within the government during his absence led some observers to say he had left Brazil rudderless shortly after taking office at the beginning of January.

There was "a kind of power vacuum," Thomaz Favaro with the political risk consultancy Control Risks told AFP.

He said there was "a bit of worry" among hundreds of officials appointed to run government ministries, agencies and state-run companies on how to implement Bolsonaro's agenda while he was in hospital.

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