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Brazil's far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has broken nearly two days of silence over his defeat in Sunday's presidential election - but has refused to congratulate or concede rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's victory.

Bolsonaro lost what is widely seen as Brazil's most important election in decades by a margin of 2.1 million votes – 50.9% to 49.1% – and dozens of world leaders quickly conceded Lula's victory.

But Bolsonaro said nothing, with local media reports showing the erratic right-wing populist hiding in his presidential residence beset with anger, sadness and mistrust.

In a brief appearance on Tuesday afternoon, Bolsonaro finally broke his silence, amid growing public anger over his undemocratic stance.

"Our dreams are more alive than ever," the 67-year-old told reporters who had been summoned to the Alvorada palace in the capital Brasilia.

However, Bolsonaro, who is the first president to lose re-election in Brazil's history, did not name the winner of the election and did not say whether he accepted the result.

He thanked the 58 million voters who had supported his failed campaign but did not explicitly say he would honor Lula's win or offend the 60 million people who voted for his opponent.

"As president and as a citizen I will continue to follow all the orders of our constitution," Bolsonaro said ambiguously.

Bolsonaro also alluded to baseless claims that Sunday's election was unfair. He said the post-election protests by hardline supporters - including using trucks and tires to block major highways - were the fruit of "outrage and feelings of injustice about how the election process was going".

"Peaceful protests will always be welcome," Bolsonaro said, adding, however, the destruction and obstruction of people's right to come and go was unacceptable.

After Bolsonaro delivered his message, his chief of staff Ciro Nogueira indicated that his government would not challenge the election results.

"President Jair Bolsonaro ... has authorized me that when provoked according to law, we will start the transition process," he said.

Political analyst Thomas Traumann said Nogueira's remarks represented a formal acknowledgment that Bolsonaro had lost the election and that there would be a change of power at the end of the year.

The Supreme Court echoed that interpretation in a statement saying that by giving the green light to the transition process, Bolsonaro had "recognized the final outcome of the election".

Traumann believes Bolsonaro's refusal to expressly admit and his signal to protesters reflects behind-the-scenes efforts to secure some sort of informal amnesty that would protect him from prosecution once he steps down and loses presidential immunity.

Observers believe that after leaving power Bolsonaro could find himself exposed to many possible investigations and accusations relating to fake news, anti-democratic behavior, alleged corruption and his handling of the Covid pandemic that killed nearly 700,000 Brazilians.

"He's obviously afraid of prison ... so what he's trying to do is negotiate with the only card he has left, which is massive street protests," said Traumann.

On Tuesday night Bolsonaro was reportedly locked in talks with at least six members of the supreme court as part of supposed negotiations. A prominent political journalist, Guilherme Amado, said the president plans to "request that neither he nor his family will be persecuted" once he resigns.

On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court ruled that federal highway police must "immediately take all measures" to clear roads that have been illegally blocked by Bolsonaro's supporters.

Owners of trucks used as barricades will be fined 100,000 reais (£17,000) for each hour they remain part of the blockade, the court said.

In São Paulo on Monday night, roads near the international airport, one of South America's busiest, came to a standstill, causing some passengers to pull their luggage through the back on foot to try to catch their flight. More than two dozen flights were canceled because pilots and crew were unable to reach the airport.

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