Rousseff mounts final plea against impeachmentMonday, April 04, 2016
BRASÃILIA, Brazil (AFP) — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff clung to office yesterday as Government lawyers argued the impeachment case against her was baseless, kicking off two weeks that could decide her political fate.
Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo launched his final arguments before a congressional impeachment committee, a crucial phase in a political crisis that has brought the Government of Latin America’s biggest economy to the brink of collapse as it battles a deep recession and corruption allegations.
Cardozo said Rousseff, who is accused of manipulating the Government’s accounts to downplay the recession, never violated the constitution.
As such, he said, "the attempt to impeach her is a coup".
His office suggested the case was an "act of revenge" by the speaker of the Lower House, Eduardo Cunha, a scandal-plagued but powerful politician who has led the impeachment push.
The commission’s recommendation on whether to try Rousseff, expected on April 11, will set the tone for a vote soon after in the Lower House.
Two-thirds of the Chamber of Deputies, or 342 votes, are needed to send the case for trial in the Senate. The Lower House vote is expected to take place on April 17, newspaper
Folha de Sao Paulo reported.
The schedule gives the leftist leader just days to lobby for support and save her presidency.
As the impeachment battle played out, Rousseff manoeuvred to reshuffle her power base after her main coalition partner, the PMDB party, went over to the Opposition last week.
The PMDB, a political juggernaut, is the party of House Speaker Cunha and Vice-President Michel Temer, the man who will take over if Rousseff is impeached.
The PMDB was long an awkward partner for Rousseff and her Workers’ Party.
Now that their divorce is official, Rousseff, 68, is jettisoning PMDB appointees from prized Government posts and giving them to parties that could bring her the congressional votes needed to avoid impeachment.
The latest casualty, announced yesterday, was the head of State tourism agency Embratur, a Temer appointee.
Rousseff could also find out this week if the Supreme Court agrees to let heavy-hitting but controversial ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva join her Cabinet.
He has been barred because he is accused in a case connected to a huge embezzlement and bribery scandal at State oil company Petrobras.
"This week will be the week where both sides are playing all their cards pretty hard and making their moves," Gabriel Petrus, an analyst at the political consultancy Barral M Jorge Associates, told
"The following week we’ll have the final result of this battle."
Rousseff’s approval rating has plunged to 10 per cent, according to polls.
But those working to oust her themselves face serious allegations.
Temer has been linked to the Petrobras scandal, though he has not been charged. And Cunha was charged last year with taking millions of dollars in bribes in the scandal.
Cunha was also among scores of Brazilians caught up in the Panama Papers scandal that erupted Sunday, when media published documents revealing offshore accounts held by public figures worldwide.
His name does not appear on the list, but it included one firm owned by him, according to the three Brazilian news organisations that joined in publishing the leaks.
The House speaker denied the allegation in a statement.
Huge Opposition rallies and smaller pro-Rousseff rallies in recent weeks have highlighted sharp divisions in Brazil that some fear could turn violent, even as the Rio de Janeiro Olympics hover just four months away.
"A political war will be waged," Cunha told
Folha, which reported Sunday that he planned to break with tradition and participate in the impeachment vote.
The political tensions have only exacerbated the country’s economic mess.
The market is now betting the economy will shrink by 3.73 per cent this year, a central bank survey found yesterday, even worse than the International Monetary Fund’s forecast of a 3.5 per cent recession.