Brazil roadblocks dwindle as Bolsonaro starts handover

Brazil roadblocks dwindle as Bolsonaro starts handover

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at a road blockade after his election defeat. (AFP Photo)
Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at a road blockade after his election defeat. (AFP Photo)

SAO PAULO: Brazilian police said Friday they have nearly finished clearing hundreds of roadblocks by supporters of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who have been protesting since his election loss to veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Just 15 partial roadblocks remain nationwide, said federal highway police, adding they had broken up another 954 since Sunday's divisive presidential runoff election.

Bolsonaro supporters reacted furiously to Lula's narrow victory, blocking highways with cars, trucks, and tractors and camping out at army bases to demand a military intervention.

The blockades had threatened to cause havoc in Latin America's biggest economy but have diminished since Bolsonaro urged supporters Wednesday to "unblock the roads."

Ex-army captain Bolsonaro remained silent for nearly two days after the election, raising fears he would try to cling to power with the backing of hardline supporters.

But after a series of key allies acknowledged the result, the incumbent said Tuesday he would respect the constitution and authorized the start of the transition process for Lula's inauguration on Jan 1.

However, Bolsonaro has still not explicitly recognised the result or congratulated Lula.

The outgoing president on Thursday met briefly with vice president-elect Geraldo Alckmin, who is heading Lula's transition team.

Alckmin said the meeting had been "positive," and that Bolsonaro had promised "all information and assistance needed for a smooth transition."

Pro-Bolsonaro protests had dwindled Friday morning outside military bases in various cities.

Around 100 people remained outside a barracks in Brasilia, an AFP photographer said. In Sao Paulo, a handful of protesters remained, calling for "divine and then military intervention."

In Rio de Janeiro, demonstrators had dispersed.

The remaining roadblocks affect just five of Brazil's 27 states, police said.

The National Confederation of Industry had warned Tuesday that there was an "imminent risk of shortages" if highways were not quickly cleared.

Although Bolsonaro urged supporters to lift their roadblocks, he also encouraged "legitimate demonstrations," raising fears Brazil may still face turbulent times until Lula is sworn in, and beyond.

Ex-metalworker Lula, 77, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, won an unprecedented third term with 50.9% of the vote, to 49.1% for Bolsonaro — the closest presidential election in the country's modern history.

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