Congress to vote on Rousseff trial

BRASILIA • The Lower House of Congress is set to vote today on whether to authorise the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, bringing to a head a crisis that has paralysed and divided Latin America's biggest nation.

Police were out in force across major cities in preparation for what were expected to be large rallies by both supporters and opponents of Ms Rousseff.

In the capital Brasilia, Ms Rousseff, 68, and her allies lobbied frantically to turn the tide, which seemed to be going against the country's first female president. The opposition needs 342 votes from the 513-seat Lower House of Congress - or two-thirds - to send her to the Senate for a trial that could see her being forced from office.

She is accused of illegal accounting manoeuvres to mask government shortfalls during her 2014 re-election. Many also hold her responsible for Brazil's worst recession in more than a generation, and a huge corruption scandal centred on state oil firm Petrobras.

If she is defeated, the Senate is expected to vote to open a trial, probably next month - she would have to stand down for 180 days while Vice-President Michel Temer took over as interim president. Another two-thirds vote in the Senate would oust her.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'Congress to vote on Rousseff trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe