Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will stand for re-election in October
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will stand for re-election in October

Brazil’s lower house on Monday announced a decision to nullify the chamber’s vote on impeachment against President Dilma Rousseff, while the Senate decided to move forward and vote on the process on Wednesday as planned.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will stand for re-election in October
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will stand for re-election in October
LOWER HOUSE IMPEACHMENT VOTE ANNULLED

Waldir Maranhao, taking over as acting speaker of the Chamber of Deputies last week, accepted an injunction filed last week by Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo who said there were irregularities in the lower house’s voting session on April 17.

In a news release, Maranhao listed several procedural flaws: the president’s defense did not have the chance to speak during the voting session, hindering the right of defense.

In addition, the political parties made the decision to support the impeachment or go against it, rather than letting representatives vote based on their own will, he added.

In his decision, Maranhao said the Senate should return the case to the House, so it could hold a new vote on the impeachment proposal.

After the April lower house vote, the impeachment case has been passed to the Senate, but this latest twist in the opposition-led impeachment drive has led to confusion as to how the process would go on.

Maranhao was made lower house speaker last week, after his predecessor Eduardo Cunha was suspended by a Supreme Court decision, marking the first time in Brazilian history that the judiciary has ordered such a measure.

Cunha, who is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee after it came to light he had squirreled away millions of U.S. dollars in undeclared Swiss bank accounts, and used his influence to coerce other lawmakers to vote against Rousseff and to obstruct justice in his investigation, the court said.

Cunha is believed to be pursuing impeachment as a means of political revenge, after Rousseff’s ruling Workers’ Party refused to shield him from the Ethics Committee probe.

SENATE TO MOVE FORWARD

The nullification of the lower house vote sparked confusion about the impeachment process, since the next step was for the Senate to vote Wednesday on the motion to impeach Rousseff.

Hours after Maranhao’s announcement, head of the Senate Renan Calheiros confirmed that the Senate will move forward to vote on Rousseff’s impeachment case as planned on Wednesday, despite a sudden lower house about-face.

The lower house reversal, announced just two days before the Senate is to vote, “is an untimely decision,” said Calheiros, and as such “cannot be accepted.”

Accepting the lower house’s decision to nullify its April 17 vote in favor of the impeachment drive would only serve to “delay the process,” said Calheiros.

“It is not up to the president of the Senate to say whether the process is just or unjust, it is the decision of the plenary session, of all of the senators,” he added.

FRIENDS AND FOES

The unexpected announcement by Maranhao has fired up Rousseff’s friends and foes alike.

Attorney General Cardozo confirmed at a press conference on Monday that the lower house must hold a new vote on whether to subject Rousseff to an impeachment trial.

The Brazil People’s Front, an umbrella group for some 60 social organizations, called for a national day of protest on Tuesday against what they described 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.”

Meanwhile, Brazil’s political opposition and the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) said they would appeal the decision by the acting lower house leader at the Supreme Court.

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

“We are going to present an appeal to 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.

ROUSSEFF URGES ALLIES TO REMAIN CAUTIOUS

Rousseff on Monday called on her supporters to remain wary after she heard the lower house impeachment vote against her had been annulled.

“I can’t measure the consequences, so please act cautiously. We are facing a state of affairs fraught with cunning and guile,” warned the embattled president.

Rousseff was at a ceremony announcing the creation of five federal universities when the news broke, leading cabinet members, lawmakers, educators and students at the event to cry out in celebration.

But Rousseff urged her allies not to let their guard down, saying her political opponents’ push to impeach her was not over.

“A fierce battle, filled with difficulties” still lies ahead, said Rousseff. “I urge you, members of congress, and all of us, to stay calm and stand up to it. There will be a fight, and a good deal of struggle.”

“More than ever, we must now fight against … this process that is tantamount to a coup,” said Rousseff. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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