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Brazilian Parliament Votes to Decide President Rousseff’s Fate | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Dilma Rousseff

Brasília-The Brazilian Parliament held a session on Sunday as lawmakers continued a rowdy marathon debate to determine which deputies will vote on impeachment against the President of the country Dilma Rousseff.

Opposition to Rousseff has increased in recent months, with accusations that she illegally covered up government budget shortfalls in 2014 to increase her chances for reelection. However, Rousseff has denied allegations against her as politically-motivated, vowing not to back down.

She repeatedly argued that the push against her was a “coup.”

The lower house of Congress voted to send the matter to the Senate, which will consider whether to put Rousseff on trial, probably in May.

Notably, a two-thirds majority, or 342 of 513 members, is needed to send the matter to the Senate.

If the number of supporters of impeachment is insufficient, the process will be terminated, if not, the final verdict regarding the removal of the head of state will take the Senate, the upper house of Parliament.

Moreover, latest estimates published by the three main Brazilian newspapers showed the pro-impeachment camp has already amassed enough support.

If the senate finds her guilty, President Rousseff would be forced to leave office. The vice president-turned-opponent, Michel Temer, would serve Rousseff’s term until 2018 if she is voted out of office.

Temer, a 75-year-old with the Brazilian Democratic Movement, a party without any concrete ideology that has a reputation for backroom wheeling and dealing, has tried to cast himself as a statesman above the fray and a unifying force that can heal a scarred nation. Rousseff has called him one of the ring-leaders trying to bring her down.

Authorities have deployed more than 4,000 members of the emergency services in Brasilia and in the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where hundreds of thousands of pro- and anti-impeachment people hit the streets.

The large number of security forces has stationed to separate rival protesters, who will also be divided by a long metal barrier that has rapidly become a symbol of the split in Latin America’s biggest country.

Rousseff has options. She could appeal to the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Brazil’s highest court, on the grounds that the accusations are faulty. She has hinted she might do so.

On the other hand, Rousseff’s mentor, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told thousands of supporters in Brasilia that nothing could be taken for granted.

“We can’t let them win 342 votes. It’s a war that goes up and down. It’s like the stock market. At one point one guy says he’s with us, and then he’s not,” he said.

Nevertheless, a leading opposition lawmaker, Mendonca Filho, told AFP that he was confident of getting the 342 votes. “But we can’t imagine that it will be easy,” he said. “We have to remain vigilant.”