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Brazil's Senate committee approves motion to vote on impeachment


05-07-2016 10:30 BJT

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has vowed to keep fighting, hours after a Senate committee recommended that she be put on trial by the full chamber for breaking budget laws. The full Senate is expected to vote to put her on trial on Wednesday, which would immediately suspend Rousseff for the duration of a trial that could last six months. The upper house committee voted 15-5 to accept the charges against Rousseff.

After three days of heated debate, the 21- member Senate committee voted 15-5 with one abstention to send impeachment proceedings against Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff to the full upper house.

Rousseff, the nation's first female president, is accused of violating fiscal laws by using state banks to conceal budget shortfalls ahead of her re-election in 2014, a charge she flatly denies.

"There is a movement for impeachment in Brazil today which I fight and will fight in all instances, using all possible tools, because I am calm in the knowledge that I have not committed an impeachable offense," she said.

Last month, Rousseff suffered a crushing defeat in the lower house with well more than the necessary two-thirds of lawmakers backing her impeachment.

The vote was presided by the house speaker Eduardo Cunha, one of Rousseff's most powerful enemies, who himself was suspended from his job Thursday by Brazil's supreme court. This, as he is investigated for alleged corruption and abuse of power, among other charges.

Despite this new twist, many political analysts say Rousseff's chances of survival look slim:

"President Dilma Rousseff has a very small chance to remain in office but probably she will be impeached next week. But the problem in Brazil is that we need at least a minimum of political stability in order to get out of the economic crisis and this is very difficult now. People don't like the president, people don't like the Vice President who is going to take office and the politicians are failing to respond to the social demands of the Brazilian population," said Mauricio Santoro, political analyst.

Meanwhile, Brazil's vice president, Michel Temer, a senior member of the Brazilian Democratic party, which broke its alliance with Rousseff's Workers party to seek her impeachment, is preparing to take over.

Though analysts say Rousseff's removal - whether temporary or permanent -- is almost certain, few Brazilians want Temer to replace her. A recent survey by data polling firm Ibope shows more than 60 percent of Brazilians want a snap election to resolve the country's political crisis. But that would require a constitutional amendment as the next election is not scheduled until 2018.

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