Brazil's Bolsonaro avoids conceding defeat, but begins transition to winner Lula
Updated November 1, 2022 at 5:58 PM ET
Almost two days after Sunday's vote, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro finally made his first statement about the election but did not concede that he lost to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
"As president and as a citizen I will continue to follow all the commandments of our constitution," Bolsonaro said in a news conference in Brasília on Tuesday.
In his remarks, which lasted just 2 minutes, he didn't mention the election winner, popularly known as Lula, by name.
After the brief statement, Bolsonaro's chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, told reporters that the incumbent president authorized him to "begin the transition process."
Bolsonaro lost Sunday's runoff election 49.1% to da Silva's 50.9% — the slimmest margin in Brazil going back at least to its return to democracy in the 1980s.
His silence until now fueled concerns that he would refuse to recognize the results, even as political allies and others close to Bolsonaro publicly acknowledged his defeat and called on him to respect the vote.
Bolsonaro — an admirer of former President Donald Trump — has repeatedly made unfounded allegations about voter fraud in Brazil's electronic voting system. He once said "only God" would remove him from office.
On election night, President-elect da Silva said to supporters in São Paulo, "Anywhere else in the world, the president who lost would have called me by now and conceded."
Truck drivers loyal to Bolsonaro have blocked roads in over a dozen Brazilian states, causing disruptions. The road to São Paulo's international airport was blocked and many flights were canceled.
Many truckers are among the most diehard of Bolsonaro supporters, having benefited from policies such as lowering diesel costs.
On Tuesday morning, the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered federal highway police to clear the blockades.
In his brief national address later Tuesday, Bolsonaro said the protests were a "popular movement" resulting from "indignation and a sense of injustice" over the election. But he said demonstrators should avoid "impeding the right to come and go" or destroying property.
This story has been updated from a previous version about President Jair Bolsonaro's silence since losing the Brazilian election.
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