Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro breaks silence and authorizes the transition with Lula


The transition with Lula is underway on Wednesday in Brazil after outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro, emerging from a long two-day silence, pledged to respect the Constitution, without however explicitly acknowledging his defeat against his opponent on the left.

“As long as I am President of the Republic, I will continue to respect the Constitution,” declared the Head of State on Tuesday in a martial tone. He spoke during a two-minute speech at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, refusing to congratulate the winner of the presidential election.

Before his statement, however, the microphones picked up a few words from him followed by a smile: “We will miss them”.

"The president authorized me, according to the law, to start the transition process" with the team of elected president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said his chief of staff Ciro Nogueira.

Jair Bolsonaro, 67, has also half-criticized the roadblocks erected by his supporters protesting against the victory since Sunday.

"Peaceful demonstrations will always be welcome, but we cannot use the methods of the left, (...) which prevent freedom of movement", he launched.

However, he claimed that these demonstrations were “the result of outrage and a feeling of injustice regarding the way the electoral process was carried out”.

The Supreme Court, guarantor of the Constitution, quickly took note of this speech in a brief press release: “By ordering the start of the transition, (the president) recognized the final result of the election”.

The High Court, with whom the Head of State has had stormy relations since the beginning of his mandate, also “underlined the importance of ensuring freedom of movement in relation to roadblocks”.

Jair Bolsonaro then held a meeting with several Supreme Court magistrates, including Alexandre de Moraes, who is leading several investigations involving the far-right leader and his allies.

Mr. Bolsonaro "said 'it's over'", referring to the election, said magistrate Luiz Edson Fachin, after this meeting which was not on the official agenda.

Lula at COP27

The first Brazilian president to have failed in a re-election attempt, Jair Bolsonaro was beaten on Sunday by the icon of the left (50,9% against 49,1%).

Many foreign heads of state have congratulated Lula on his third term as head of the country, after those from 2003 to 2010. He will take office on January 1.

Vice-President-elect Geraldo Alckmin was appointed Tuesday coordinator of the transition team responsible for preparing the ground before the handover.

This team, which may number up to 50 people, will have access to public accounts and will be able to prepare the first decrees which will be promulgated by the new president after his inauguration.

Lula's team wants the transition process to start "from Thursday", Gleisi Hoffmann, president of the Workers' Party (PT), co-founded by Lula, said on Tuesday.

Trips abroad are also planned before he takes office. Invited by Egypt, the president will attend the COP27, which will start on Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Ms Hoffmann announced.

During the long two-day silence of the Head of State, the protest movement on the main roads spread, and calls to support them had multiplied on pro-Bolsonaro accounts on Twitter and Telegram, found the AFP digital investigation team.

In several parts of the country, police used tear gas to disperse protesters.

It ended 490 blockages in the past few hours, but 191 partial or total blockages persisted, according to a report released Tuesday evening around midnight.

Calls to demonstrate 

It was not possible on Tuesday evening to estimate the impact of Jair Bolsonaro's statements on the continuation of the roadblock movement. However, many messages circulated in the evening on social networks calling for demonstrations on Wednesday, a public holiday in Brazil.

The capital Brasilia was calm after the "preventive" restrictions on access to the Three Powers Square, where the Presidential Palace, the Parliament and the Supreme Court are located.

In Sao Paulo, a call was circulating for "the greatest mobilization in history" on Wednesday on Paulista Avenue, invaded Sunday evening by hundreds of thousands of cheering supporters of Lula.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock / ettore chiereguini

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Summary of news from October 2, 2023

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