Brazil committee votes to try Rousseff

BRASILIA • A Senate impeachment committee has voted to put suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on trial in the full chamber for breaking budget laws, opening the way for her to be removed from office.

The 21-member committee voted yesterday 14-5 to try Ms Rousseff for allegedly manipulating government accounts to allow more public spending in the run-up to her 2014 re-election.

The vote in the capital Brasilia on the eve of the Olympic opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro is non-binding but will send a loud message to the Senate plenary.

The Senate will vote next Tuesday whether to accept the charges, where a simple majority would suffice. Then a final and decisive session in the full Senate is scheduled for Aug 29, a week after the Olympics close in Rio, when a two-thirds majority is required to eject Ms Rousseff.

Ms Rousseff, who is refusing to attend the Olympics ceremony because she would be in a "secondary role", calls the impeachment procedure a coup in disguise.

Her bitter political enemy Michel Temer, who is serving as interim president, will oversee the opening ceremony. If she is removed from office, he will become the full-time president until elections in 2018.

Crippled by corruption, Brazil is in its worst recession in decades.

Ms Rousseff is being accused of using state-controlled banks to finance popular social programmes without revealing she was doing so. Accusers say she did this so she could spend more money on vote-winning social programmes in 2014 - the year in which she narrowly won re-election.

It was only after her victory that she admitted to Brazilians that the economy was in trouble.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil committee votes to try Rousseff'. Print Edition | Subscribe