Pro-Bolsonaro protests dwindle as Brazil handover starts

Brazilian police said Friday they have nearly finished clearing hundreds of roadblocks by supporters of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who have been protesting since his election loss to veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro supporters reacted furiously to Lula's narrow victory Sunday, blocking highways with cars, trucks, and tractors and camping out at army bases to demand a military intervention to keep the defeated incumbent in power.

"All federal highways are now free of roadblocks," though 11 partial closures remain in four of Brazil's 27 states, federal highway police said in a statement.

The blockades had threatened to cause havoc in Latin America's biggest economy, but have diminished since Bolsonaro urged supporters Wednesday to "unblock the roads."

Police have broken up a total of 966 roadblocks, they said.

Pro-Bolsonaro protests outside military bases had meanwhile dwindled Friday to just a handful of people in Brasilia and Sao Paulo, and none remained in Rio de Janeiro, AFP correspondents said.

Ex-army captain Bolsonaro remained silent for nearly two days after the election, raising fears he would try to cling to power with the backing of hardline supporters.

But after a series of key allies acknowledged the result, he said Tuesday he would respect the constitution, and authorized the start of the transition process for Lula's inauguration on January 1.

However, Bolsonaro has still not explicitly conceded defeat or congratulated Lula.

The outgoing president on Thursday met briefly with vice president-elect Geraldo Alckmin, who is heading Lula's transition team.

Alckmin said the meeting had been "positive," and that Bolsonaro had promised "all information and assistance needed for a smooth transition."

Although Bolsonaro has urged supporters to lift their roadblocks, he also encouraged "legitimate demonstrations," raising fears Brazil may still face turbulent times until Lula is sworn in, and beyond.

In the latest violent incident linked to the divisive election campaign, a 12-year-old girl who was shot at a Lula victory party in the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte died Thursday of her wounds.

Ex-metalworker Lula, 77, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, won an unprecedented third term with 50.9 percent of the vote, to 49.1 percent for Bolsonaro -- the closest presidential election in the country's modern history.