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Brazil’s Bolsonaro says Supreme Court election is ‘over’

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government signaled its readiness to hand over power two days after a nerve-wracking electoral defeat at leftist Luiz Inácio 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 campaign 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,” despite stopping short of conceding a goal.

After meeting Bolsonaro privately, Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin said the Conservative leader had said: “It’s over. So let’s look ahead.” The judiciary made the statement in a video that was broadcast on local media.

Two other judges interviewed by journalists declined to comment on the tenor of the hour-long meeting. Brazil’s Economics Minister Paulo Guedes was also present but did not comment.

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

Previously, Bolsonaro had not relented in his first public comments since the results broke, but immediately afterwards his chief of staff told reporters the Conservative leader had authorized him to begin the transfer of power process.

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

US President Joe Biden and other international leaders have publicly acknowledged da Silva’s victory, as have some of Bolsonaro’s closest allies. And cabinet members, governors-elect and evangelical leaders who have staunchly supported Bolsonaro are now offering overtures to the new left-wing government.

Bolsonaro narrowly lost Sunday’s race, receiving 49.1% of the vote to da Silva’s 50.9%, according to the national electoral authority. It was the closest presidential race since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985 and marks the first time Bolsonaro has lost an election in his 34-year political career.

Flanked by more than a dozen ministers and allies while delivering a two-minute speech at the president’s residence, the fiery leader made no mention of the election results. Instead, he defended his term, saying he supports the ongoing protests by truckers, who would have set up roadblocks nationwide as long as they didn’t turn violent.

“Current popular movements are the result of outrage and a sense of injustice at how the electoral process went,” he said.

The president’s statement amounts to a “double step,” said Thomas Traumann, an independent political analyst.

“He didn’t recognize his defeat and keeps the tension going,” said Traumann. “But since he wants to continue to dominate in order to be the leader, he reserves the possibility of peaceful demonstrations.”

Much like former US President Donald Trump, whom Bolsonaro openly admires, he has claimed that electronic voting machines are susceptible to fraud. He did not provide evidence, even on the orders of 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 Tuesday, Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered federal highway police to clear the streets immediately.

A majority of the court’s judges supported the decision, which accused the highway patrol of “omission and laziness.” By 8:30 p.m. local time, highway patrol said they had removed 419 blockages but nearly 200 remained.

Formerly in Sao Paulo — Brazil’s most populous state and largest economy — congestion around the international airport caused dozens of flight cancellations. Videos on social media showed travelers wheeling their suitcases down the freeway in the dark trying to catch their flights. The freeways had been cleared by Tuesday morning, but airport officials said access remained difficult as traffic in and out of the airport was still backed up.

There, Dalmir Almeida, a 38-year-old protester, said that after the three-day strike is complete, he and others will drive their trucks to the military barracks to ask for their support.

“The army will be in our favor,” he said

At another roadblock in Sao Paulo state, demonstrators set fire to tires. Several protesters were wrapped in the Brazilian flag, co-opted by the country’s conservative movement for demonstrations. Huge lines of cars snaked along the highway.

Sao Paulo Governor Rodrigo Garcia said the time for negotiations was over and he did not rule out the use of force.

In Minas Gerais, a key battleground in the elections, video on social media showed a protester telling a reporter from the O Tempo news agency the election was “fraudulent” and warning of future protests.

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

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

Social media users, including those on several Telegram and WhatsApp chat groups, shared calls 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 decision allows regular state police forces to reinforce federal highway policing. The same thing happened in 2018, when an 11-day truckers’ strike brought Brazil to a standstill.

However, Bolsonaro has broad grassroots support in the police force and it was not clear how effective their involvement would be.

The 2018 shutdown caused food prices to soar, leaving supermarket shelves empty of produce as gas stations ran out of fuel. It caused billions in damage and revealed the enormous power that truckers possess. Bolsonaro, then an MP and months away from winning this year’s presidential election, has been an outspoken supporter of the truckers, who are now among his constituents.

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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.

https://news.yahoo.com/brazils-bolsonaro-tells-supreme-court-050233876.html Brazil’s Bolsonaro says Supreme Court election is ‘over’

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