BRASILIA, Oct 31 (Reuters) – President Jair Bolsonaro will not publicly announce his defeat in Brazil’s presidential election until Tuesday, a minister said, amid doubts over whether the right-wing nationalist would accept the victory of his leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. .
Bolsonaro stopped making comments to return to his residence on Monday evening and prepare a speech, Communications Minister Fabio Faria told Reuters.
The head of the united party, Claudio Cajado, previously said Bolsonaro would address the nation on Monday, almost 24 hours after Brazil’s presidential election.
It is not clear whether Bolsonaro will accept defeat, as Cajado said some advisers were urging him to do.
Lula’s victory marks a remarkable comeback for the 77-year-old former ironworker, who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2010 but then spent time in prison on corruption convictions that were later overturned.
Bolsonaro spent Monday at the presidential palace without making any public appearances. Before the polls he repeatedly made baseless claims that the electoral process was open to fraud.
His eldest son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, sent thanks to his father’s supporters, saying: “Let’s raise our heads and not give up our Brazil! God is in charge!”
Pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers blocked roads across Brazil to protest Lula’s victory, with some calling for a military coup. Truck drivers, one of Bolsonaro’s mainstays, have been known to cause economic chaos in Brazil’s main food supplier when they block highways.
Faria, the communications minister, said Bolsonaro was working with his attorney general to establish measures to clean up the highways.
About 236 protests blocked roads partially or completely in 20 Brazilian cities on Monday evening, according to the highway police. The blocks did not immediately disrupt wheat exports.
Lula has vowed to overturn many of Bolsonaro’s policies, including gun measures and weak protection of the Amazon rainforest.
Conservationists, world leaders and sustainable investors applauded Lula’s success and commitment to protecting forests and restoring Brazil’s leadership on climate change.
Even before he took office on Jan. 1, President-elect Lula will send representatives to the COP27 climate conference of the United Nations next month in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, the allied Environmentist Marina Silva said on Monday.
In his victory speech on Sunday evening, Lula promised to crack down on the illegal logging, mining and land grabbing that has fueled the destruction of the Amazon rainforest over the past four years under Bolsonaro.
Describing the contest as a battle for democracy, Lula promised to unite his deeply divided country and celebrated what he called his “resurrection.”
“I will govern the 215 million Brazilians, not just those who voted for me,” Lula said at his campaign headquarters. “We are one country, one people, one great nation.”
The Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) declared Lula to have won 50.9% of the votes, against 49.1% for Bolsonaro, who became the first Brazilian to lose the presidential election.
Lula’s victory brings together a new “pink tide” in Latin America, and means that the left will control all the major economies of the region after a series of electoral victories from Mexico to Argentina in recent years.
Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez went to Sao Paulo to meet the president-elect on Monday and hailed “a new era in the history of Latin America. A time of hope and a future that begins today.”
US President Joe Biden was quick to congratulate Lula, calling the election “free, fair and credible.” Biden will speak with Lula on Monday, the White House said.
Congratulations from other foreign leaders, including Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.
But Bolsonaro’s continued silence has fueled fears about the handover of power.
International election observers said Sunday’s election was well conducted. One observer told Reuters that military auditors had not found any errors in an integrity check they conducted on the voting process.
Markets expect a volatile week. Brazil’s real gained more than 2% against the dollar, while the Bovespa (.BVSP) rose 0.6% in choppy trading.
Lula’s victory was a rebuke to many on the far right of Bolsonaro, who emerged from the congressional benches to form a conservative coalition but lost support as Brazil suffered one of its worst deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
Lula has vowed to return to the state-led economic growth and welfare policies that helped lift millions out of poverty during his two terms as president.
A former labor union leader born into poverty, Lula’s presidency was marked by industrial-driven economic growth and he resigned from the popular post.
However, his Workers Party was later ousted by a deep recession and a record-breaking corruption charge that saw him jailed for 19 months on bribery convictions, which were overturned by the Supreme Court last year.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Ricardo Brito in Brasilia, Brian Ellsworth, Ana Mano, Gabriel Araujo and Lisandra Paraguassu in Sao Paulo; Written by Frank Jack Daniel and Anthony Boadle, edited by Brad Haynes, Angus MacSwan and Rosalba O’Brien
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.