Allies of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff rallied congressional support for the beleaguered leader Thursday in the hope of thwarting what would be the country’s first presidential impeachment vote in more than 20 years, the Guardian reported. The Brazilian Congress opened impeachment proceedings Wednesday against Rousseff, who is accused of fiscal wrongdoing and manipulating government accounts to help get herself re-elected last year.
Communications Minister Ricardo Berzoini called a meeting of party leaders from the ruling coalition on Thursday to determine whether they have enough support to halt the impeachment process.
The 2,000-word impeachment motion was read out on Thursday in the chamber of deputies, and a special committee was struck to determine whether a formal investigation should be recommended — a move requiring a two-thirds approval vote.
Meanwhile, representatives from Brazil’s largest labor union also gathered Thursday to discuss the country’s increasingly troubled economy and decry the efforts to impeach Rousseff, TeleSUR reported. Vagner Freitas, president of the CUT union, called the impeachment move an “act of desperation” on the part of Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies who made the decision to open the impeachment proceedings Wednesday.
“Brazil needs tranquility in order to resume economic development, and we are laying out the path to recovery in the forum by discussing alternatives to overcome the crisis,” Freitas said. “Brazil cannot remain at the mercy of Mr. Eduardo Cunha, who no longer has political or moral authority to continue in office.”
Rousseff addressed the country Wednesday evening via television, expressing her “outrage” at Cunha’s decision and saying there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on her part.
“I do not have any accounts abroad,” she said, referring to Cunha, who himself is under an ethics investigation and is alleged to have lied in a corruption hearing about holding Swiss bank accounts and receiving a $5 million kickback in a widespread graft scandal at the semipublic oil company Petrobras.
In response to Rousseff’s address, Cunha accused her Thursday of “lying to the nation” and offering incentives to his allies prior to the impeachment move.