Brazil impeachment process ‘on track’


An impeachment process against Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff appears to be back on track after the acting Speaker of the lower house revoked his surprise decision to suspend a crucial vote.

Speaker Waldir Maranhao did not give any reason for his U-turn which happened less than 24 hours after he had called for a new impeachment vote.

The Senate is now expected to vote on Wednesday on an impeachment trial.

If Ms Rousseff loses, she will be suspended for the trial’s duration.

She faces allegations that her government violated fiscal rules, which she says is a common practice in Brazil.

Mr Maranhao’s earlier decision to annul the lower house vote held on 17 April had thrown the impeachment proceedings into disarray.

Mr Maranhao argued there had been irregularities during the lower house session during which its members overwhelmingly voted in favour of the impeachment process going ahead.

He said members of the lower house should not have publicly announced what their position was prior to the vote, and that it had been wrong of party leaders to instruct their lawmakers how to vote.

The controversial decision led to chaos and confusion over its legality, and added a dramatic twist to Brazil’s ongoing political crisis.

It called into question whether the next step in the impeachment proceedings – a Senate vote on whether Ms Rousseff should face an impeachment trial – would go ahead.

In a special Senate session to discuss the matter, Senate Speaker Renan Calheiros said the vote would go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday.

Mr Calheiros also accused Mr Maranhao of “toying with democracy”. His speech was followed by boos and cheers.

Then, late on Monday, Mr Maranhao released a statement in which he said he had revoked the annulment. He did not cite any reasons.

Mr Maranhao opposed the impeachment process in the 17 April vote.

He only took over as the Speaker of the lower house last week, after the previous Speaker, Eduardo Cunha, was suspended.

Mr Cunha, an outspoken critic of President Rousseff, led the impeachment drive against her.

Ms Rousseff has said the efforts to impeach her amount to “a coup attempt”, and has accused Mr Cunha and Vice-President Michel Temer of being the “ringleaders of the coup”.

Mr Temer will step in as interim president if Ms Rousseff is suspended from office.

In an interview last week, Ms Rousseff said she was an “innocent victim” and that she would fight on.

She is accused of manipulating the government budget ahead of her re-election in 2014. The president has defended her actions as a common practice.



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