Brazil President seeking allies to stay in power

RIO DE JANEIRO • It's make-or-break time for leftist Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's attempt to avoid impeachment - and for Brazil itself.

Ms Rousseff's Solicitor-General Jose Eduardo Cardozo was yesterday due to make final arguments before a congressional impeachment commission. Its vote is scheduled for next Monday and is being pushed so urgently the commission chairman wants all 65 members seated before dawn so that they can finish in the same day. The commission's non-binding recommendation goes next to Brazil's Lower House, which will either scrap impeachment or send Ms Rousseff to trial in the Upper House Senate.

Ms Rousseff is accused of illegally manipulating government accounts, a charge that many experts consider to be relatively light for an impeachment. However, the one-time Marxist guerilla is also under fire for a brutal recession and a corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras.

Ms Rousseff lost her main coalition partner to the opposition last week and might have just days to lobby for support when the votes for or against impeachment come up in Brazil's Congress. She is expected soon to announce ministerial posts and other government jobs in reward for congressional support.

She could also find out this week if the Supreme Court agrees to let heavy-hitting but controversial former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva join her Cabinet, even though he is caught up in the Petrobras scandal. But those working to oust Ms Rousseff also face serious allegations. Vice-President- turned-opponent Michel Temer has been linked to the Petrobras scandal, while Speaker of the Lower House Eduardo Cunha was charged last year with taking millions of dollars in bribes in the scandal and hiding the money in Switzerland.

As huge opposition rallies and pro-Rousseff rallies become a regular feature of life in Brazil, Ms Rousseff claims she is the victim of a coup and the opposition is warning that the future of the country is at stake.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil President seeking allies to stay in power'. Print Edition | Subscribe