Brazil’s Rousseff suspended as Senate backs impeachment trial

Brasilia, May 12 (IANS) The Brazilian Senate on Thursday voted for an impeachment trial against President Dilma Rousseff, suspending her from office.

Rousseff will be suspended until the Senate submits the case to a final trial, which will happen in up to 180 days. Vice President Michel Temer will take over in the period, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the trial, it will take a two-thirds majority to remove Rousseff from the presidency permanently.

Analysts said this may not be difficult as the opposition managed to get two-thirds in the first voting.

Temer, whose Brazilian Democratic Movement Party recently left the ruling coalition, is seen as a spearhead in the impeachment of Rousseff.

The media reported that Temer has a new Cabinet prepared and intends to make significant changes, shifting the direction of the administration.

The president and vice president have yet to make any public statements on the latest developments.

The Senate gave the go-ahead to the impeachment trial by 55-22 in the early hours of Thursday after over 20 hours of heated discussion.

Different from the session in the house, the Senate session gave supporters a chance to defend the president before the vote.

Former president Fernando Collor de Mello, himself impeached by the senate in 1992, said that he feels the country has “regressed politically”, CNN reported.

His colleague Armando Monteiro said the impeachment was politically motivated and would set a dangerous precedence.

“We will, indeed, be promoting a rupture in the nation’s institutional order.”

Rousseff, who was first sworn into office in January 2011 and started a second term in 2015, has called the steps to remove her a “coup”.

The opposition said the impeachment was necessary. Senator Magno Malta of the Party of the Republic compared the impeachment to a surgical operation.

“Brazil today (Thursday) is like a diabetic, feverish body, with a leg compromised by gangrene, ready to be amputated. And the logic is this: if we amputate the leg, we save the body; by not amputating the leg, we compromise the entire body,” he said.

Senator Angela Portela from the ruling Workers’ Party said the impeachment was not logical as it was based on alleged mistakes made in last year’s accounts. She also warned about the social impact.

“We will be removing a victorious government proposal and a generous project to redesign our society, a project which foresees inclusion, protection of minorities, reduction of inequalities and economic growth with justice,” she said.

“It is not fair to do what they are doing to the Brazilian democracy. They are not taking down President Dilma. They are taking down popular vote,” said Joao Viana, another senator of the Workers’ Party.

Rousseff made a last-ditch appeal to the Supreme Court on Wednesday to stop proceedings, but the move was rejected. Her suspension brings an end to 13 years of the rule of her party.

His colleague Armando Monteiro said the impeachment was politically motivated and would set a dangerous precedence.

“We will, indeed, be promoting a rupture in the nation’s institutional order.”

Senator Waldemir Moka told the upper house during the motion that if the impeachment trial was successful, the future president would assume a government with a 250 billion Brazilian real debt ($72 billion) according to conservative projections, with the possibility of being up to 600 billion real ($174 billion).

Rousseff would be suspended during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro which starts on August 5.

When the investigation ends — which could be as late as November — the process would return to a special Senate committee.

At that point, Rousseff would have 20 days to present her case. Following that, the committee would vote on a final determination and then present it for a vote in the full senate.

It would take a two-thirds majority to then remove the president from office.

–IANS

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