A congressional committee in Brazil has recommended the ousting of the country’s embattled president Dilma Rousseff, agencies report. The committee’s vote – 38 to 27 in favour of impeachment – is not binding but sets the stage for a crucial vote in the country’s lower house.
Ms Rousseff is accused of breaking fiscal laws to mask the dire state of the budget during her re-election in 2014. Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies will vote on Sunday or Monday next week on whether to send the matter to the Senate for a possible trial.
A two-thirds majority is needed to achieve this and it could see Ms Rousseff ultimately removed from office. The latest survey of the 513 deputies, however, shows 298 in favour – short of the 342 needed to carry the motion.
There are 119 deputies opposed and 96 undecided. If the impeachment measure was to move to the Senate, they would then decide whether to open a trial, something that would see Ms Rousseff suspended from office for up to 180 days during proceedings.
If Ms Rousseff was eventually impeached, the reins would pass to her vice president Michel Temer. On Monday, a recording was released via a newspaper of Mr Temer rehearsing the speech he is preparing for when he takes over.
His team said the leak was accidental but which Ms Rousseff’s supporters say it is evidence of a “coup”. The road does not appear smooth for him either, however: while a poll shows that 61% of Brazilians favour impeaching Ms Rousseff, 58% think Mr Temer should suffer the same fate.
Ms Rousseff, meanwhile, is fighting back. The 68-year-old who was tortured under Brazil’s military dictatorship is being helped by her ally and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is frantically trying to build an anti-impeachment coalition.
But Lula himself is also immersed in scandal – facing money laundering charges over a corruption probe into state oil company Petrobras.
The scandal has seen a number of executives and politicians charged, including house Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who would be next in line for the presidency if Mr Temer were also impeached.