Brazil’s president dodges transition ceremony – media
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has reportedly flown to Florida rather than sticking around for Sunday’s ceremonial handoff of the presidential sash to his hated leftist rival and successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The conservative politician arrived in Orlando, Florida, early Saturday morning on a Brazilian Air Force plane, according to media reports. He left Brasilia shortly after posting a tearful farewell message to supporters in which he called his election defeat unfair, condemned violent protests over the result, and defended his record as president.
Bolsonaro has vowed not to participate in the transition of power when Lula takes office in Sunday’s inauguration. Vice President Hamilton Mourao, who is serving as acting president for his final full day in office, said last month that he wouldn’t hand the sash to Lula if Bolsonaro refused to do so.
The situation harkens back to US President Joe Biden’s January 2021 inauguration in Washington. After then-President Donald Trump refused to concede his election defeat and left Washington before his successor was sworn in, Vice President Mike Pence filled the traditional role of welcoming the new commander-in-chief to the White House.
Bolsonaro lost Brazil’s October 30 election to Lula by a margin of 50.9% to 49.1%. He challenged the result, alleging that voting machines used in the contest were prone to fraud, but the country’s electoral court rejected his claims in November and imposed fines for denying the result in “bad faith.”
The dispute led to protests, some of which were violent, across Brazil. Bolsonaro supporters also camped outside army barracks, demanding that the military stage a coup to keep their leader in power.
Bolsonaro could have had another reason for leaving Brazil, according to media reports. He may face law-related risks when his presidential immunity from prosecution expires on Sunday, Reuters reported. A Senate panel last year recommended that he be charged with nine crimes stemming from his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic