An unexpected reversal of a prior lower house vote on the impeachment process against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Monday excited her friends and foes alike.

Her opponents said they would fight what they see as a setback in the process to unseat the president, by taking the case to the Supreme Court.

Social movements that support her, but have been largely silent as the process unfolds, called for nationwide protests against the possible impeachment.

Both groups were galvanized by Brazil’s newly-instated acting lower house speaker Waldir Maranhao, who earlier on Monday announced his decision to nullify the April 17 lower house vote in favor of subjecting Rousseff to an impeachment trial.

Maranhao said irregularities in the voting process prejudiced the outcome, and called for a new vote.

The Brazil People’s Front, an umbrella group comprising some 60 social organizations, called for a national day of protest on Tuesday against what they describe as a coup camouflaged as a legal procedure.

Organizers issued a statement calling on workers everywhere to strike to “defend democracy (and) labor rights … and to fight against the coup taking place in Brazil.”

The front urged sympathizers to “strike, delay getting to work, block streets and major access roads, demonstrate and hold people’s assemblies” to show their discontent with the impeachment against Rousseff.

Vagner Freitas, the president of Brazil’s Unified Workers’ Central (CUT), one of the organizations calling for protests, accused conservative business lobbies of funding the impeachment drive to reverse social benefits promoted by Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.

“The coup is being financed by the FIESP (Federation of Industries of the State of Sao Paulo) and the CNI (National Confederation of Industry),” said Freitas.
Brazil’s political opposition and the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), meanwhile, said they would appeal against the decision of the acting lower house leader at the Supreme Court.

Antonio Imbassahy, the head of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), the leading opposition group in the Chamber of Deputies, said Maranhao “abused” his position.

“We are going to present an appeal at the Supreme Court, because the approval of impeachment by the lower house was legally perfect, it abided by the steps established by the Federal Supreme Court,” said Imbassahy.

Other opposition leaders echoed his words.

“This nullification has to be suspended, not just because it lacks legal basis, but also because it lacks respect for the 367 deputies who legitimately voted,” Andre Moura of the Christian Social Party said.

The OAB’s national President Claudio Lamachia said he asked the association’s legal department to study the decision, before appealing to the top court.

“The OAB is extremely concerned by the decision of the acting lower house speaker. This kind of measure answers to the passing interests of some political groups, but ignores the legitimate decisions already taken,” said Lamachia.

However, the appeal may not be necessary, as Senate leader Renan Calheiros on Monday said the Senate will vote as scheduled on Wednesday on the motion to open an impeachment trial against the president, despite the lower house’s sudden about-face.

Only a simple majority, or 41 out of 81 votes, is necessary for the Senate to greenlight impeachment proceedings, and the opposition most likely has more than enough votes.

Should that happen, the president would have to step aside while being tried, and the vice president would take her place. A final Senate trial would require a two-thirds majority to impeach Rousseff. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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