Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday avoided conceding defeat in his first public remarks since losing Sunday's election, saying protests since then were the fruit of “indignation and a sense of injustice” over the vote.
His chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, speaking after Mr Bolsonaro's brief public address, said the president had authorised him to begin the transition process with representatives of leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
It took Mr Bolsonaro more than 44 hours to make his first public remarks since the election was decided by electoral authorities, making him the first Brazilian president to lose a re-election bid. He has still not spoken with Mr da Silva.
Amid his silence, supporters blocked motorways to protest against his defeat, with some calling for a military coup to stop former president Mr da Silva from returning to power.
Mr Bolsonaro's delay in recognising Mr da Silva's election raised fear that he would contest the narrow result of the election.
In a national address on Tuesday that lasted only a few minutes, Mr Bolsonaro thanked Brazilians who voted for him and reiterated that he would follow the country's constitution, which stipulates a transition of power on January 1.
He referred to the demonstrations as a “popular movement” and said they should avoid destroying property or “impeding the right to come and go”.
That may not be enough to defuse the protests across Brazil by small groups of his supporters, which have begun to cause economic disruptions, drawing calls from farm and retail groups for Mr Bolsonaro to begin a transition.
The Brazilian supermarkets lobby has reported supply problems owing to the protests and appealed to Mr Bolsonaro to resolve the situation before shop shelves begin to empty.
The Supreme Court ordered police to remove scores of blockades. These had blocked access to an important grains-exporting port and affected the country's largest airport, threatening the transportation of food and fuel.
Some truckers posted videos calling for a military coup to stop Mr da Silva from taking office.
His win represents a stunning comeback for the former metalworker, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010 but then spent time in prison for corruption convictions that were later annulled.
He has vowed to overturn many of Mr Bolsonaro's policies, including pro-gun measures and weak protection of the Amazon rainforest.