Brazil leader says she's innocent, critics 'corrupt'

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff looks on during a signing of federal land transfer agreement in Brasilia, Brazil on April 15, 2016.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff looks on during a signing of federal land transfer agreement in Brasilia, Brazil on April 15, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRASÍLIA (AFP) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff accused backers of her impeachment of trying to grab power in order to avoid corruption charges themselves on Saturday (April 16).

"They want to convict an innocent woman and save the corrupt," Rousseff wrote in a column published in the daily Folha de Sao Paulo on the eve of an impeachment vote in the lower house of Congress.

"Would those leading the coup allow the fight against corruption to continue? What's their legitimacy?" the leftist president wrote.

Rousseff has accused her vice president, Michel Temer, and House Speaker Eduardo Cunha of leading a conspiracy against her.

The 68-year-old leader, meanwhile, canceled plans to address supporters camped out at the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia and will instead focus on continuing talks with legislators to convince them to vote against impeachment, a presidency official told AFP.

If it passes the lower house, the measure would then move to the Senate, which would then have to vote on whether to put Rousseff on trial, suspending her for six months during the proceedings.

Lower house lawmakers were due to make further speeches on Saturday (April 16) and Sunday (April 17) before voting late Sunday on whether to call for an impeachment trial.

Rousseff faces charges that she illegally used creative accounting to mask government shortfalls during her 2014 reelection.

She accepts the claims, defending her behavior by saying that previous governments used similar measures.

Several lawmakers backing her impeachment face a slew of charges.

Cunha, for instance, has been charged with taking millions of dollars in bribes linked to a massive embezzlement cartel centered on state oil company Petrobras.

Temer, whose PMDB party quit its alliance with Rousseff's Workers Party amid the political turmoil, is alleged to have been involved in illegal ethanol dealings.