Brazil’s outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro has broken his silence after losing to left-wing leader Lula in national elections.
The right-wing leader pledged on Tuesday to “respect the Consitution” of Brazil, without explicitly acknowledging his defeat to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Sunday’s vote.
“As long as I am President of the Republic, I will continue to respect the Constitution,” he said in his first public statement since ballots were cast.
Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, indicated after a very brief speech at the presidential palace of Alvorada, in Brasilia, that the departing president had “authorised the transition”.
His lack of public comment had fuelled worries in Brazil, particularly as Bolsonaro has continually cast doubt on whether he would accept any election result in which he did not win, saying that “only God” could remove him from office.
Bolsonaro, often likened to former US President Trump, said protests in Brazil must be “peaceful”. But he added they were “the result of outrage and a sense of injustice” over the electoral process.
Hundreds of roads and motorways across the country were blocked by Bolsonaro supporters on Monday, dissatisfied with the election results.
Bolsonaro repeatedly attacked the integrity of electoral processes in Brazil, despite there being no basis for this claim.
Dozens of flights in and out of São Paulo were also cancelled after protestors cut off an access road.
The head of Brazil’s Supreme Court, Alexandre de Moraes, said earlier on Tuesday that there was “a risk to national security”.
He ordered the roadblocks to be cleared, though police have struggled to get rid of them all.
The 67-year-old former captain did not congratulate Lula on winning the election or even mention him at all in his speech, which began by thanking the 58 million Brazilians who voted for him.
Referring to the slogan on Brazil’s flag, Bolsonaro said he stood “for order and progress”, adding his party valued “God, fatherland, family and freedom”.
The once-jailed, left-wing politician Lula defeated Bolsanaro by a slimmer-than-expected margin, getting 50.9% of the vote compared to 49.1%.
Many foreign heads of state have congratulated Lula on securing his third term as head of Brazil, after leading the country from 2003 to 2010.
He will take office on 1 January 2023.