Supporters of Brazil’s defeated Bolsonaro attack police headquarters

BRASILIA, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Supporters of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro tried to storm the federal police headquarters in the capital, Brazil, in light of post-election violence on Monday, the day he was confirmed to have lost the presidential election.

Reuters witnesses saw many of Bolsonaro’s supporters, wearing their trademark yellow national soccer jerseys or Brazilian flags, clashing with security forces at police headquarters. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. Nearby buses and cars were set on fire.

The Federal Police said the “disturbance” near the headquarters was being controlled with the support of the central security forces.

The violence comes after a Bolsonaro supporter was arrested on charges of organizing violent “anti-democratic acts”, according to a judge who ordered his arrest.

On Monday morning, the Federal Electoral Court (TSE) confirmed the victory of Bolsonaro’s left-wing rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as president in the October 30 election. After months of unsubstantiated suggestions that Brazil’s voting system was subject to fraud, Bolsonaro has not conceded defeat to Lula, nor has he officially blocked the transfer of power.

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But some of the president’s supporters blocked highways and gathered outside army barracks in protest, calling for a military coup to oust Lula.

On Monday afternoon, hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters gathered in front of the presidential residence, holding banners calling for “military intervention”. The President joined them in public prayer, but did not address the crowd.

“There will be no inauguration,” said Jose Trindade, 58, one of Bolsonaro’s supporters. “Bolsonaro was re-elected, but they kidnapped him. So only the army can restore order.”

Conspiracy theories and subsequent violence have rekindled memories of the January 2021 storming of the US Capitol by supporters of former US President Donald Trump. It also raises security concerns when Lula takes office in a public ceremony in Brazil on January 1.

Lula’s top aide, Senator Randolph Rodríguez, said there were physical safety concerns for Lula and Vice President-elect Geraldo Alcmin as protesters surrounded a hotel in Brazil where he was staying. Lula’s team denied reports that Lula would be flown out of the hotel by helicopter.

Brazil’s public security officials said they were guarding the area around Lula’s hotel and urged drivers to avoid the city center, where many roads were closed.

IMITATED BY ARREST

The violence in Brazil comes after Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes on Monday ordered an investigation into Bolsonaro and his associates and the temporary arrest of Jose Acasio Serere Xavante on charges of anti-democratic activities.

Local leader Xavante is among Bolsonaro’s supporters protesting the results of the October 30 election.

“I cannot accept the criminals ruling Brazil,” Xavante tweeted last month. “Lula can’t get a certificate.”

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Last week, Bolsonaro broke his weeks of post-election silence by saying his situation “pained me”.

“Who decides where I go. You decide where the armed forces go,” Bolsonaro told supporters at the gates of the presidential residence on Friday.

In a statement from the Supreme Court, Moraes “ordered the temporary detention of the indigenous Jose Acasio Serere Xavante for 10 days for evidence of the crimes of intimidation, harassment and the violent abolition of the Democratic Rule of Law.”

It said Xavante organized protests across Brazil and used “his position as chief of the Xavante people to recruit indigenous and non-indigenous people to commit crimes,” threatening Lula and Supreme Court justices.

Xavante “openly called for armed men to prevent the certification of elected politicians,” the statement added.

Reporting by Wesley Marcelino and Victor Borges; Additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello and Carolina Pulis; Edited by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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