New impeachment setback for Brazil president Dilma Rousseff

Published: Friday 15th April 2016 by The News Editor

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President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil suffered another blow when the Supreme Court rejected an attempt to block an impeachment vote against her.

It was a further setback for the embattled leader, who has lost the support of key allies this week and is now even closer to a first major defeat in the process.

The high court’s extraordinary session ran for more than seven hours and ended with justices voting 8-2 against the president, turning aside her claim that the voting procedures planned by the Chamber of Deputies were “contaminated”.

House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, a fierce enemy of Ms Rousseff, initially organised the vote to begin with politicians from the industrial and rich south, where opposition to the president is strongest.

After the justices began meeting, his lawyer presented a different plan that would alternate between the south and the north, where Ms Rousseff has more support.

The Supreme Court’s decision to deliver a ruling so soon had not been expected, but Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski said that “exceptional situations require exceptional measures”.

The special session of the justices was the latest development after weeks of legal wrangling over a process in Congress that has exposed deep divisions in Latin America’s largest country.

The lower house’s vote on whether to impeach Ms Rousseff is based on allegations that she broke fiscal rules to mask budget problems by shifting around government accounts.

Solicitor General Jose Eduardo Cardozo’s told the court that Mr Cunha had presented the impeachment push in such a way that went beyond the actual accusations against Ms Rousseff.

The pro-impeachment camp needs two-thirds of the 513 votes in the lower house, or 342 votes, to send the proceedings to the Senate for a possible trial. If the Senate takes it up, Ms Rousseff would be forced to step down until the measure was voted on.

Both government and opposition forces say they have enough votes to win on Sunday, but daily counts by Brazilian media suggest the opposition is much closer to victory.

Published: Friday 15th April 2016 by The News Editor

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