Brazil's Lower House to vote on President's ouster

Ms Rousseff faces charges of manipulating the Budget to cover gaps. Opponents had previously tried to charge her with corruption but failed. The Lower House is expected to vote on Sunday on whether to impeach her.
Ms Rousseff faces charges of manipulating the Budget to cover gaps. Opponents had previously tried to charge her with corruption but failed. The Lower House is expected to vote on Sunday on whether to impeach her. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

RIO DE JANEIRO • Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff is a step closer to facing impeachment after a congressional panel cleared the way for a vote on her ouster in the country's Lower House, or Chamber of Deputies.

Tempers flared before the panel's 38-27 vote on Monday, with members of the congressional committee screaming at each other during the nationally televised proceedings. The panel was charged with investigating accusations that the President fiddled accounts to mask the dire state of the government Budget during her 2014 re-election campaign, and deciding if it should recommend impeachment.

A cliff-hanger vote in the full Lower House is expected on Sun- day. If two-thirds vote in favour, the impeachment will be sent to the Senate.

If the Upper House decides by a simple majority to put Ms Rousseff on trial, she will immediately be suspended for up to six months while the Senate decides her fate, and Vice-President Michel Temer will take office as acting president.

Ms Rousseff and her top aides argue that the impeachment proceedings, the first against a Brazilian president since 1992, amount to a coup.

Unable to seek her removal on corruption charges, her opponents are trying to impeach her on a claim of budgetary manipulation involving the use of funds from state banks to cover Budget gaps.

New twists in the political row are emerging almost daily, including a request from the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Brazil's high court, that Congress also consider a petition to impeach Mr Temer who has dropped his support for Ms Rousseff. He is under investigation for involvement in an illegal ethanol purchasing scheme.

And the apparently accidental release of a recording by Mr Temer, which appeared to have been intended for after a full impeachment vote in the Lower House, has added to the controversy. He triumphantly calls for a government of "national salvation".

NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil's Lower House to vote on President's ouster'. Print Edition | Subscribe