Impeachment vote for Brazil’s Rousseff draws near

BRAZIL-ROUSSEFF

Brazil’s Senate debated on Tuesday whether suspended President Dilma Rousseff should be permanently removed from office ahead of a final vote.

Rousseff’s ouster is all but certain with local media reporting that 59 of the 81 senators have signalled they will vote to impeach her.

The number is five votes more than the two thirds needed to impeach the president.

Rousseff, who has been suspended from office since May pending the impeachment proceedings, had endured 12 hours of questioning from senators on Monday.

She called her trial a politically motivated “coup” intended to end 13 years of leftist rule by the Workers’ Party.

Rousseff is accused of financial irregularities, including manipulating government accounts to obscure a budget crisis during her 2014 re-election campaign.

Since Thursday, the country’s 81-seat upper house, presided over by the president of Brazil’s Supreme Court, has heard evidence in the case, culminating in Rousseff’s testimony.

On Tuesday, each of the senators was expected to speak for 10 minutes to explain their votes on the impeachment.

A final vote is expected to take place early on Wednesday.

Should Rousseff be impeached, Vice-president Michel Temer of the Democratic Movement Party, currently Interim President, will serve as president through the end of Rousseff’s term to 2018.

Temer intends to increase privatisation and reduce state spending to pull Brazil out of the deepest recession in its history.

Mass street protests broke out in the country in 2015 against the government’s inability to improve economic conditions and the corruption scandals that have left more than half of the 594 members in the National Congress under investigation.

The biggest of all the scandals involves state-run Petrobras in which bribes were allegedly paid for the award of contracts by the oil giant to construction companies.

Some of the money was allegedly shared with politicians from several political parties.

Rousseff was Chairwoman of the Petrobras board between 2003 and 2010 when the kickback schemes allegedly took place.

She, however, denied knowledge of wrongdoing and was not charged in the case.

A long-time left-wing activist who trained as a guerrilla in her youth in order to fight the country’s military dictatorship, Rousseff was elected President in 2010.

She was narrowly re-elected to another four-year term in 2014. (dpa/NAN)

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