Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has suffered another setback after a special congressional committee voted 38 to 27 in favour of impeachment proceedings.
The Chamber of Deputies will now cast a full vote on 17th April, with a two-thirds majority needed to send the matter on to the Senate. In that scenario, Rousseff would have to stand down for up to 18 days while the Senate investigates the matter.
At this juncture Rouseff would be replaced on a interim basis by Vice-President Michel Temer from the opposition PMDB party.
President Rousseff is purported to have broken fiscal laws by manipulating governmental accounts in order to make the fiscal deficit appear smaller than actually was in the run up to the previous 2014 election.
Attorney General José Eduardo Cardozo labelled the impeachment process as “flawed”. He added: “it is absurd to dismiss a president who has not committed crimes, nor stolen a penny. And such a process without crime or fraud, would be a coup.”
Brazilian lawmaker for the president’s PT party, Benedicta Mrs da Silva, described Rousseff as “an honest woman”, before adding that the decision is “a blow”.
However, opposition lawmaker Vanderlei Macris (PSDB) voiced his concerns about the “thieving government” and believed that “the worst thing that can happen to the country is for Rousseff to stay in power”
The move against Rousseff deepens Brazil’s political crisis, with a range of top-level officials caught up in mega-corruption scandals.
Former president and PT leader Lula is accused of money laundering, and Rousseff sparked outrage by naming him cabinet chief, effectively blocking court proceedings against him. Both say that the charges against them are part of an attempted coup.
Meanwhile vice-president Temer, who broke his alliance with Rousseff earlier this month, is also facing potential impeachment charges as well as being investigated for corruption. Temer faced criticism yesterday after an audio file of him rehearsing a speech in which he becomes interim president was leaked to the media.
If Temer is also blocked from becoming leader, next in line to assume the presidency would be speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha. He too is facing possible money-laundering charges, which emanate from the lava jato (car wash) Petrobras scandal.
Yesterday’s impeachment vote was cast amidst fervent scenes in Brazil with those supporting and those against the president taking to the streets with slogans and placards.
Further rallies are expected when Congress meets to vote on the impeachment.