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335499

Brazilian court orders roadblocks cleared; Bolsonaro silent on election loss

By Gabriel Araujo and Ricardo Brito

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Brazil's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered police to remove scores of roadblocks set up by supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro to protest his defeat in the presidential election, while the far-right leader remained silent on the result.

The Federal Highway Police (PRF) said truckers were blocking highways at 271 points, partially or fully, as part of protests that have spread to 23 of Brazil's 26 states in the wake of Bolsonaro's loss to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a runoff election on Sunday. The police said another 192 roadblocks had been cleared.

Justice Alexandre de Moraes called on the PRF to remove all the blockades, which have been mainly organized by truckers, a core constituency of the Bolsonaro government that has benefited from its lowering of diesel costs.

Some truckers posted videos calling for a military coup to stop Lula, a leftist who served as Brazil's president from 2003 to 2010, from taking office.

Bolsonaro remained silent more than 36 hours after his defeat and has neither conceded the race nor called the president-elect.

Moraes was quickly joined by six other justices in a virtual session in the early hours of Tuesday as they formed a majority in the 11-member court to back his decision, setting fines on the PRF's director-general Silvinei Vasques if he failed to act to clear the roadblocks.

The highways that have been blocked included key roads used to move grains from farm states to ports, as well as a major road linking the two largest cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The main access road to Sao Paulo's Guarulhos international airport, the busiest in the country, also was blocked.

Although Bolsonaro has remained silent on his election loss, his political allies and associates have already begun to establish contact with the Lula camp to discuss a transition. Some have publicly declared that the Bolsonaro government should respect the election result.

Communications Minister Fabio Faria told Reuters that Bolsonaro was expected to speak on his defeat by Tuesday, though it was not clear whether the incumbent would accept Lula's victory. (Reporting by Gabriel Araujo in Sao Paulo and Ricardo Brito in Brasilia; Editing by Paul Simao)

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