First appointment since defeat: Bolsonaro is back in public

Since the election defeat by Lula, Brazil's President Bolsonaro has gone into hiding.

First appointment since defeat: Bolsonaro is back in public

Since the election defeat by Lula, Brazil's President Bolsonaro has gone into hiding. People were already puzzling over where he was and why he wasn't showing up anymore. But now he is making a public appointment for the first time since the election.

Outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has appeared at an official meeting for the first time since his defeat in the presidential election around four weeks ago. Along with Vice President Hamilton Mourao and Defense Minister Paulo Sérgio Nogueira, two generals, Bolsonaro attended a ceremony at the military academy in Resende on Saturday. His presence gave the event "a lot of brilliance," Army Commander Marco Antônio Freire said in front of almost 400 officer candidates.

Since his election defeat, Bolsonaro has disappeared. He is usually holed up in his residence, creating an unsettling atmosphere of power vacuum in the country. The former head of state leaves traditional tasks such as accepting the credentials of new ambassadors to his vice president. The president of Latin America's largest economy, who will be in office until January 1, has not even appeared at high-level international meetings such as the G20 summit or the UN climate conference.

His official appointments calendar is almost empty - apart from brief sporadic meetings, almost all of which take place at his official residence and not at the presidential office. It has also been uncharacteristically quiet on his otherwise much-used online media accounts for almost a month. Statements from his advisors about Bolsonaro's absence range from alleged "sadness" at his electoral defeat to a bacterial skin infection on one of his legs.

Bolsonaro narrowly lost the election to left-wing ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva four weeks ago. After the election, he initially did not comment on his defeat. Only two days later did the right-wing extremist signal his readiness for a peaceful transfer of power to the election winner, Lula - without explicitly admitting his defeat.

Just this week, Bolsonaro's Liberal Party (PL) filed a complaint against the election result, asking the Supreme Electoral Court to invalidate all votes cast using more than 280,000 voting machines. However, the Supreme Electoral Court dismissed the complaint and imposed a heavy fine on the PL.

In several cities, however, Bolsonaro's supporters continue to protest in front of military barracks and call for the army to intervene to prevent Lula from taking office. According to local media, Bolsonaro greeted some of these protesters in front of the military academy in Resende on Saturday. Rumors are already circulating that Bolsonaro plans to travel abroad on inauguration day on January 1 to avoid having to hand Lula the presidential sash.

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