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Brazil in turmoil as Rousseff faces impeachment

The Brazilian Congress has voted to impeach their own President amid rife corruption claims, just as the country heads towards what could be one of the most important events in its developmental timeline: the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

At a sitting of the House of Congress on 17th April, the 513 members of the House were each allowed 30 seconds to speak at the floor before casting their vote.

It was clear that the final result was going against 68-year old President Rousseff from the beginning of the sitting; the floor of the lower House of the Brazilian Congress was awash with national flags and cheers, even before the Deputy Minister who cast the deciding vote against Rousseff was carried out of the Chamber by dozens of members.

The vote will now go to the Senate in May, where a simple majority is needed in order to initiate official impeachment proceedings and the replacement of Rousseff by her Vice, Micehel Temer, will be introduced as acting President, pending trial.

If Rousseff were found guilty of her impeachment charges, then Temer would serve out the remainder of her term until 2018.

Mrs Rousseff is accused of having false accounting and making changes to documentation during her 2014 bid for re-election, in order to cover up national budget shortfalls. According to the Brazilian population, it is decisions such as these that have led to the failing of the national economy and left the left-wing government with less than a 10% national approval rating.

Responding to the initial vote in Congress less than 24 hours after it was decided, Rousseff remained defiant, claiming that she was “outraged” by the motion and would “continue to fight” for her political integrity and survival, believing there is no legal basis for an impeachment, and intended to travel to the United Nations in New York in an attempt to rally some international support for her cause ahead of the crucial Senate vote.

However, Rousseff leaves her cabinet in a state of disarray as nine of her 31 ministers have resigned, leaving several important portfolios without leadership, including the Tourism and Sports ministries, both of which are supposed to be working closely with the International Olympics Committee in the final weeks and months before the games begin
in August, prompting some international concern. “When Brazil was awarded the games in 2009, it was a very stable country, in the interim it has become destabilised” commented Cindy Boren of the Washington Post.

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva described the attempt to unseat Rousseff as a “coup”.

The Senate will vote in two weeks.

26/04/2016

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