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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro broke his silence two days after losing Sunday’s presidential runoff, saying there will be a transition of power – but failed to acknowledge his defeat against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the BBC reported Tuesday.
On Sunday, electoral authorities declared Lula – a former president – as the winner of the runoff. Lula secured 50.9 percent of the vote, while Bolsonaro received 49.1 percent.
Still, Bolsonaro broke from tradition by not acknowledging his defeat or congratulating his opponent. The silence fueled speculation that he might not concede or may contest the final results.
Amid the silence, many of his supporters refused to recognize the results and erected roadblocks across the country in protest. The blockades have caused significant disruption and affected supply chains. Dozens of flights in and out of the city of Sao Paolo have been canceled after a key access road was cut off by demonstrators.
Police have cleared more than 300 roadblocks so far but hundreds more remain. On Tuesday, the country’s Supreme Court warned there was “a risk to national security” and ordered the roads be cleared.
Before the elections, Bolsonaro had made a series of combative statements about leaving office and had repeatedly questioned the country’s voting system. Even so, government officials previously said the outgoing leader would not contest the election results.
During his Tuesday address, Bolsonaro thanked voters for their support. He added that he had always stayed within the framework of the constitution and that the “process of transition” of power would begin.
In the meantime, members of Bolsonaro’s government have been in contact with the president-elect’s team to start working on the transition of power ahead of Lula’s swearing-in on Jan. 1.