Bolsonaro's retreat from presidential duties raises speculations
After nearly three weeks of media silence following his election loss, the Brazilian VP attributes the outgoing President's retreat to a skin infection on his leg, but many are still in doubt.
After nearly three weeks of media silence following his election loss and many speculations about the reasons, Brazilian VP Hamilton Mourao finally explained that President Jair Bolsonoaro has a skin infection on his leg.
"He has a health problem. He can't wear pants. How could he come here in shorts?" the VP stated to O Globo newspaper, despite earlier stating that the reason for Bolsonaro's absence was the President being in "a spiritual retreat."
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The outgoing President virtually disappeared on the night of the runoff elections on October 30, only to reappear 2 days following his defeat to announce that he respects the constitution without officially conceding.
While Bolsonaro remained silent, several of his most important allies publicly endorsed the results. Arthur Lira, the speaker of the lower house of Congress, said it was time to "extend a hand to our adversaries, debate, and build bridges."
President Bolsonaor, who was defeated in the presidential elections that took place last October against his rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will remain acting President until the end of his term on January 1.
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According to reports, Bolsonaro is planning on traveling on inauguration day to avoid passing the sash to his leftist successor.
"I'm not the president. I can't be the one to hand over the sash," Mourao said.
Bolsonaro not only went dark on media platforms, which he was known to be very active on, but he also began skipping official duties like the G20 summit that took place in Bali last week while leaving his VP to carry out routine tasks like accepting new ambassadors' credentials.
According to analyst Oliver Stuenkel, Bolsonaro's silence was a preplanned strategic move.
"He can't accept the (election) result explicitly, but at the same time he can't question it explicitly, because that could make the electoral court punish him" by prohibiting him from running for the presidential elections again, Stuenkel stated to AFP, adding that in this case, "staying silent is the best solution."
As soon as the election results were announced, Bolsonaro supporters took to the streets to protest Lula's victory, with over 100 protests reported on October 31, which blocked major roads and highways in 18 different states.
The blocks have visibly diminished since Bolsonaro called on his supporters to "unblock the roads" later on. He did however raise concerns of political turmoil by encouraging his supporter base of taking part in a "legitimate demonstration".
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Bolsonaro might have "a case of denial that has evolved into depression," said Sylvio Costa, the founder of Congresso em Foco news outlet.
"It was Bolsonaro's first electoral defeat" since entering politics in 1988, first as a Rio de Janeiro city councilor, then a seven-term congressman," Costa added.
Bolsonaro is facing "dozens of investigations and lawsuits, and fears being taken to prison. I believe Bolsonaro is lost," Costa noted, adding however that he is "totally unpredictable" and might "reappear with a coup speech and try to disrupt the beginning of the new government as much as possible."
"One wonders whether the president would be ready to take the necessary measures in a national emergency," stated Stuenkel, commenting on the concerns voiced by national security officials regarding the speculations that Bolsonaro might attempt something close similar to a coup
On the other hand, Lula has looked a lot like the head of state, holding high-level meetings and traveling this week to the United Nations climate summit in Egypt, where he declared, "Brazil is back."