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Brazilian President Bolsonaro breaks silence following election defeat

President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro broke his silence Tuesday, two days after his run-off loss to left-wing politician Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, saying he will cooperate with the transfer of power, but did not concede the election. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/599f918e04afebc4f8d6df1e42d7862d/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro broke his silence Tuesday, two days after his run-off loss to left-wing politician Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, saying he will cooperate with the transfer of power, but did not concede the election. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro broke his silence Tuesday, two days after his election loss to left-wing politician Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, saying he will "follow the constitution" and cooperate with the transfer of power.

In a short speech from the presidential palace, Bolsonaro did not concede the election and did not congratulate Lula da Silva who won 50.9% of the vote to Bolsonaro's 49.1% in Sunday's run-off election. The run-off was held after neither candidate secured a majority during the first round of voting last month.

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"I have always been labeled undemocratic and, unlike my accusers, I have always played by the rules," Bolsonaro said Tuesday. "As president and a citizen, I'll continue to follow our constitution."

Bolsonaro's Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira said the formal transition will begin on Thursday.

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"President Jair Messias Bolsonaro authorized me, when it is time, based on the law, to start the transition process," Norgueira said.

During his two minute speech, Bolsonaro did not contest the vote result, after claiming electoral fraud and unfair treatment by the media ahead of Sunday's vote. The 67-year-old retired military officer, who has faced widespread criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his policies on deforestation in the Amazon, claimed he could only lose by voter fraud.

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On Tuesday, Bolsonaro thanked his supporters who continue to block hundreds of Brazil's highways in defiance of Lula da Silva's victory.

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"The current popular movements are the result of indignation and a feeling of injustice at how the electoral process took place," Bolsonaro said describing the protests as "leftist methods" and calling for them to end.

Brazil's highway police have faced criticism for failing to clear the roadways since Sunday, in addition to accusations that officers support the protesters.

"Sometimes two or three officers speak or act in a way that is incompatible with our orders," said Wendel Matos, highway police general inspector. "We are investigating if there has been any misconduct by those officers."

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While Bolsonaro did not concede defeat Tuesday, Brazil's Supreme Court said in a statement that, "by ordering the beginning of the transition, Bolsonaro acknowledged the final result of the election."

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