‘It hurts my soul’: Brazil’s Bolsonaro ends post-election silence

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FILE PHOTO: Presidential guard change ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro broke his silence on Friday for the first time since his election defeat on Oct. 30 and spoke to supporters calling for a military coup to stop leftist President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva taking office.

Bolsonaro said he had kept silent for almost 40 days, adding, “it hurts my soul.”

“Who decides where I go are you. Who decides which way the armed forces go are you,” Bolsonaro told his supporters at the gates of the presidential residence.

In his ambiguous comments, Bolsonaro did not endorse their call for a military intervention, but said the armed forces would respect Brazil’s Constitution.

He has not recognized Lula’s victory in the October elections and his silence encouraged supporters to continue demonstrations outside army bases.

Lula’s narrow victory over Bolsonaro will be certified by Brazil’s national electoral authority on Monday.

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Bolsonaro told his supporters that the armed forces were Brazil’s bulwark to prevent socialism in the country, adding that “nothing is lost” and their cause would prevail one day.

“The Armed Forces are united. They owe loyalty to our people and respect to the constitution, and they are responsible for our freedom”, he said.

“Unlike other people, we are going to win,” he said.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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