Brazilian President calls V-P a traitor, coup plotter

BRASILIA • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff took off the gloves on Tuesday, branding her vice-president a traitor and coup plotter ahead of an impeachment vote in Congress, with a party once in the ruling coalition set to cast a ballot against her.

In a blistering speech, Ms Rousseff, 68, charged: "If there were any doubts about my reporting that a coup is under way, there can't be now."

Referring to Monday's leak of an audio recording in which Vice-President Michel Temer practises the speech he would make if Ms Rousseff is impeached, she said: "The conspirators' mask has slipped. We are living in strange and worrying times, times of a coup, and of pretending, and betrayal of trust."

Ms Rousseff is in the final stretch of a bruising attempt to save her presidency from impeachment on charges that she illegally manipulated government accounts to mask the effects of recession during her 2014 re-election.

After a congressional panel voted to recommend her ouster on Monday, the stage is set for a weekend showdown in the full Lower House.

Deputies were due to start debating on Friday, with a decisive vote on Sunday, officials said. "Voting will begin on Sunday at 2pm (1am on Monday, Singapore time) and we calculate that the result will be late that evening," a spokesman for the Speaker's office said.

If the House reaches a two-thirds majority, or 342 deputies, Ms Rousseff's case is sent to the Senate. The latest survey of the 513 deputies in the Lower House by the Estadao daily showed 300 favouring impeachment and 125 opposed. That left the result in the hands of the 88 deputies still undecided or not stating a position. Then, after hours of meetings, the Progressive Party said it has decided to pull out of the ruling coalition, and most of its 47 lawmakers will vote for her to be impeached.

Ms Rousseff is hugely unpopular as Brazil sinks into its worst recession in decades.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Brazilian President calls V-P a traitor, coup plotter'. Print Edition | Subscribe