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Brazilians protest as Bolsonaro silent on election defeat

Brazilian police on Tuesday fired teargas at protesters who blocked major highways for a second day over the election loss of President Jair Bolsonaro, who was yet to concede defeat.

Bolsonaro has refused to make any public comments after losing the presidential runoff to Lula by less than 2 percentage points, the narrowest margin for a presidential election in the country’s modern history. Pressure from some allies is building for him to say something to de-escalate the rising tension. His Communications Minister Fabio Faria said late Monday that he will speak today.

Supporters of the firebrand president, unhappy with the election result, blocked more than 200 roads across more than a dozen states and the capital and restricted access to Sao Paulo international airport, forcing the cancellation of 25 flights.

The protests prompted Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes to order the federal highway police to clear the blockades, warning of fines reaching 100,000 rears ($19,306) per hour per vehicle.

“It’s a complex operation, involving more than 75,000 kilometres (46,500 miles) of federal highways,” he said.

Protesters wearing the yellow and green of the Brazilian flag, which the outgoing president has adopted as his own, expressed unhappiness with the outcome of the election.

“We will not accept losing what we have gained, we want what is written on our flag, ‘order and progress.’ We will not accept the situation as it is,” Antoniel Almeida, 45, told AFP at a protest in Barra Mansa, Rio de Janeiro.

Writing by Julian Osamoto, Editing by Omotola Oguneye