BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday refused to concede defeat in his first public speech since losing Sunday’s election, saying his supporters’ protests were the result of “anger and a sense of injustice” against the election. vote
However, he refused to challenge the election results and allowed his chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, to begin the transition process with representatives of leftist President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro, a right-wing nationalist, took more than 44 hours to comment after the election authorities’ decision, a delay that raised fears he wanted to challenge the narrow result.
Amid his silence, supporters have blocked highways to protest his defeat, and some have called for a military coup to stop former president Lula from returning to power.
Road blockades have disrupted fuel distribution, supermarket supplies and the flow of grain exports to major ports, according to industry groups. more
In his brief national address, Bolsonaro joked that journalists would miss him, thanked those who voted for him and said he would abide by the constitution, which provides for a January 1 transfer of power.
“The current popular movements are the result of anger and feeling of injustice about the way the elections were conducted,” he said.
He said protesters should refrain from destroying property or “obstructing the right to come and go,” but stopped short of telling them to go home.
“Bolsona did not put out this fire. He spoke to his hard-line supporters without criticizing the demonstrators on the highways,” said political risk analyst Andre Cesar at Brazil-based legal advisers Hold. “He’s mobilizing more extremist followers.”
Karina Lorinda, 34, who took part in the highway demonstrations outside Sao Paulo, said she would continue to protest.
“Even if he says calm down, don’t react, we will still react because we don’t accept Lula’s government,” he said.
Bolsonaro’s chief of staff and Vice President Hamilton Mourao have contacted Lula’s camp to discuss the transition. Other allies, including the speaker of the lower house of Congress, have since Sunday called on Bolsonaro’s government to respect the election results.
In a statement, the Supreme Court said that by allowing the transition of the government, Bolsonaro would recognize the election results.
Ahead of Sunday’s vote, Bolsonaro made repeated claims that the electoral system was open to fraud and accused electoral authorities of favoring his leftist rival.
Bolsonaro did not directly repeat the allegations on Tuesday. But his reference to the “injustice” of the electoral process showed that he had learned from the presidency of US President Donald Trump, his ideological ally, according to Leonardo Barreto, a political expert at Vector Consultancy in Brasilia.
Trump has continued to repeat false claims that the 2020 US election was “stolen” by widespread fraud, retaining a significant portion of supporters who believe them.
“He wants to copy Trump for the next four years to keep his conservative movement alive,” Barreto said, predicting the 2026 election would be a rematch between Bolsonaro and Lula’s Workers’ Party.
Lula’s victory is a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old former steelworker, who spent 19 months in prison on corruption charges before they were overturned last year.
Lula has promised to reverse many of Bolsonaro’s policies, including anti-gun measures and lax protection of the Amazon rainforest. His aides confirmed on Tuesday that he will attend this year’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt.
The Workers’ Party announced on Tuesday that Lula’s centrist counterpart, former Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alcmin, would coordinate the transition with the help of party leader Glacy Hoffmann and former education minister Aloisio Mercadante.
Nogueira, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, told reporters that the president had given him permission to begin the transition process with Alcmin after his name was submitted on Thursday.
Reporting by Ricardo Brito, Marcela Ayres and Anthony Boadle in Brazil and Brian Ellsworth, Nayara Figuereido and Gabriel Araujo in Sao Paulo; Edited by Brad Haynes, Alistair Bell and Rosalba O’Brien
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