Impeachment proceedings against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff have been temporarily suspended after head of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) Luiz Fachin put the brakes on the formation of a special congressional commission to analyse the case against the president.
Rousseff, one year into her second term, is facing widespread impeachment requests from opposition politicians and members of her own ruling coalition who claim that she infringed the country’s tax laws and manipulated public finances in order to seek reelection in 2014.
Impeachment proceedings were authorised last week by Eduardo Cunha, president of the Chamber of Deputies and member of the centre-right Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), who have formed an uneasy coalition with Rousseff’s centre-left Workers’ Party (PT) since 2003.
The outcome for the incumbent president looked bleak yesterday as 39 of the 65 seats on the special commission were taken by deputies who openly favour impeachment, during a secret voting process which culminated in chaotic shouting and shoving between deputies.
A list of commission members proposed by opposition politicians and dissident members of the PMDB won 272 votes against 199 votes for the government’s proposed list.
Brazil’s Communist Party (PCdoB), an ally of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT), asked that the STF review the validity of the commission.
In his decision, released late Tuesday night, Fachin asked Cunha to shed more light on the process in which it was formed, saying, “I request information, to be given within 24 hours […] on the formation and election of the special commission”.
The impeachment proceedings will remain on hold until the eleven judges who make up the STF can rule on the matter on 16th December.
If the commission is ruled valid, it would need to produce a two-thirds vote to put Rousseff on trial in the upper house, possibly resulting in her removal from office.
Rousseff is facing a political crisis aggravated by Brazil’s prolonged economic recession and a prominent government corruption scandal involving state-run oil giant Petrobras. Her approval rating stands at just 10%.
Rallies by opposition groups have been planned across Brazil for this Sunday, while hundreds of trade union activists marched in support of the president in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday night.