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Brazilian Bolsonaro said that the elections for the Supreme Court are “over”

Brazilian Bolsonaro said that the elections for the Supreme Court are “over”

SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration has signaled a willingness to hand over power, two days after losing an election to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and amid speculation that the far-right incumbent could contest the result.

Bolsonaro reportedly told members of Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday that his electoral battle against da Silva was over. Earlier, in a brief speech at the presidential palace, he said: “I have always played within the four lines of the constitution,” although he did not admit it.

After a private meeting with Bolsonaro, Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin said the conservative leader said: “It’s over. So let’s look forward.” Pravda made this comment in a video that was broadcast on local media.

Two other judges questioned by reporters declined to comment on the length of the hour-long meeting. Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes was also present but did not comment.

In a subsequent statement, the top court said judges told Bolsonaro during a “cordial and respectful meeting” that it was important to recognize the results of the election as well as the Brazilian people’s right to freedom of movement. The country has experienced widespread gridlock as pro-Bolsonaro protesters block highways.

Earlier, in his first public comments since the results were announced, Bolsonaro did not admit it, but immediately afterwards his chief of staff told reporters that the conservative leader had authorized him to begin the process of handing over power.

Bolsonaro, who before the election repeatedly questioned the reliability of the country’s electoral system, had little room to potentially reject the results.

US President Joe Biden and other international leaders publicly acknowledged Silva’s victory, as did some of Bolsonaro’s closest allies. And cabinet members, elected governors and evangelical leaders who were staunch supporters of Bolsonaro are now offering overtures to the incoming leftist government.

Bolsonaro lost Sunday’s race by a narrow margin, garnering 49.1% of the vote to da Silva’s 50.9%, according to national election authorities. It was the toughest presidential race since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985, and the first time Bolsonaro has lost an election in his 34-year political career.

Surrounded by more than a dozen ministers and allies as he delivered a two-minute speech at the presidential residence, the fiery leader did not mention the election results. Instead, he defended his mandate and said he supported the ongoing protests by truckers who have set up roadblocks across the country until they turn violent.

“The current popular movements are the result of resentment and a sense of injustice regarding the way the electoral process was conducted,” he said.

The president’s statement represents a “double whammy,” said Thomas Traumann, an independent political analyst.

“He has not recognized his defeat and is maintaining suspense,” Traumann said. “But as he wants to continue to dominate, to be the leader, he keeps the possibility of peaceful demonstrations.”

Much like former US President Donald Trump, whom Bolsonaro openly admires, he has argued that electronic voting machines are prone to fraud. He did not provide any proof, even when ordered to do so by the electoral court.

Many of his supporters also said they believed the election was rigged, and some called for military intervention and the dissolution of Congress and the Supreme Court.

Earlier on Tuesday, Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered the federal highway police to clear the roads immediately.

A majority of the court’s judges upheld the decision, which accused the highway police of “failure and inertia.” By 8:30 p.m. local time, highway police said they had removed 419 roadblocks, but nearly 200 were still in place.

Earlier in Sao Paulo — Brazil’s most populous state and largest economy — traffic jams around the international airport led to dozens of flight cancellations, with videos on social media showing travelers rolling their suitcases down the highway in the dark trying to catch a flight. The highways were cleared by Tuesday morning, but airport officials said access remained difficult as traffic continued to back up in and out of the airport.

There, Dalmir Almeida, a 38-year-old protester, said that after the three-day strike, he and others would drive their trucks to the barracks to seek their support.

“The army will be sympathetic to us,” he said

At another roadblock in the state of Sao Paulo, protesters set tires on fire. Several protesters were wrapped in the Brazilian flag, which the nation’s conservative movement has adopted for the demonstration. Huge lines of cars could be seen winding along the highway.

Sao Paulo Governor Rodrigo García said the time for negotiations had passed and he was not ruling out the use of force.

In Minas Gerais, a key state in the war-torn state for elections, a video on social media shows a protester telling a reporter from the O Tempo news outlet that the election was “fake” and warning of future protests.

“We want Bolsonaro in 2023 and in the years to come,” he said.

In Itaborai, a region in the state of Rio de Janeiro, an Associated Press reporter saw truck drivers kneeling in front of police and refusing to evacuate.

Users on social media, including multiple Telegram and WhatsApp chat groups, shared demands for the military to take to the streets or for Congress and the Supreme Court to be dissolved and the president to remain in office.

Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling allows regular state police forces to augment federal highway policing. The same was done in 2018, when the truckers’ strike lasted 11 days brought Brazil to a standstill.

Bolsonaro has broad support from members of the police force, however, and it was not clear how effective their involvement would be.

The 2018 shutdown sent food prices soaring and left supermarket shelves bare as gas stations ran out of fuel. It caused billions in losses and revealed the enormous power that truckers wield. Bolsonaro, a member of parliament at the time and months away from winning that year’s presidential election, was an outspoken supporter of the truckers, who are now among his voters.

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Jeantet reported from Rio de Janeiro. Associated Press writers Carla Bridi and David Biller contributed to this report, as did producer Diarlei Rodrigues.



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