Brazil congressional commission backs impeaching Rousseff

Lower house meets on Friday to begin debating president’s future. Vote expected on Sunday

The scene after Monday's congressional commission vote.
The scene after Monday's congressional commission vote.EVARISTO SA (AFP)
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La comisión parlamentaria aprueba que el Congreso juzgue a Rousseff

After a nine-hour session on Monday, which was punctuated by insults and arguments, a Brazilian parliamentary commission has approved by 38 votes to 27 to go ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff's career now lies in the hands of Congress, whose 513 members will begin debating on Friday. It would only take a third of all deputies to decide against impeachment for Rousseff to be able to hold on to her job, otherwise it will then be up to the Senate, where a simple majority in favor of arraignment would be enough for her to be temporarily relieved of her post while she was judged. Analysts say that if Congress and Senate approve impeachment she would likely stand down immediately.

It would only take a third of deputies to decide against impeachment for Rousseff to hold on to her job

Monday’s vote was widely seen as a shoe-in, but the 11-vote margin was larger than predicted and has unsettled the Rousseff camp. At the close of the session a shouting match erupted between opponents and supporters of the president, with some unfurling banners reading “Dilma Out” and hurling leaflets in favor of impeachment into the air.

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Pro-impeachment members of the commission accuse the two-term leader of manipulating budget accounts shortly before the 2014 election in order to conceal the true size of the budget deficit. But they also point to her growing unpopularity, as well as an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption at state oil company Petrobras related to her Workers Party, and they also blame her for a worsening economic situation. Rousseff’s supporters accuse the opposition of engineering a coup to overthrow a democratically elected president.

Former president Luiz Ínacio Lula da Silva, who joined Rousseff’s Cabinet in March, has been negotiating with deputies in a bid to garner support. At this point it is impossible to say which way the vote in Congress will go: the result is expected on Sunday. Media reports suggest around 50 deputies are still undecided. Rousseff’s future lies in their hands.

 English version by Nick Lyne


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