- Rousseff comes out fighting
- She says she is facing a coup against her
- *She will defend herself in the Senate
Following Sunday’s crushing defeat when the lower house of Congress voted to impeach her, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has vowed to keep on fighting.
She lost the vote by 365 to 137, the impeachment supporters easily surpassing the 342 they needed.
In her first appearance since the rowdy scenes on the floor of the house, Rousseff said her impeachment had no legal basis because she had not committed an impeachable crime.
“Now I’m facing a “coup d’etat”, a “coup d’etat” in which they are using a fake legal and democratic process to perpetrate the most outrageous crime against any person, which is an injustice, which is condemning an innocent person.”
Rousseff is accused of manipulating government accounts – a common practice by previous administrations according to Rousseff and not illegal .
The Senate must now decide if she has a case to answer. A vote is expected in May and reports suggest most senators will vote against the president.
“I’m going to continue to fight and I’m going to confront the whole process, I’m going to defend myself in the Senate,” asserted Rousseff.
If the vote goes against her, Rousseff will be suspended and replaced by Vice-President Michel Temer, while the Senate proceeds with the impeachment trial.
A Senate trial could last up to six months. If at the end of it two-thirds of senators were to vote to impeach, Dilma Rousseff would be forced out of office.
Michel Temer could face impeachment himself over the same accusations as those Rousseff is facing.
Two other possible successors, lower house Speaker Euduardo Cunha and Renan Calheiros are facing possible corruption allegations. All three deny wrongdoing. They are from the PMDB, the largest party in the coalition with Rousseff’s Workers’ Party but they abandoned the president to support the impeachment.
A country divided
Brazilians are passionately split with anti- Rousseff supporters fed up with her running of the economy and widespread corruption among the political classes.
But her supporters claim unlike over 350 current lawmakers Rousseff has not been accused of corruption and instead of impeachment there should be fresh presidential elections.
The political crisis comes as Brazil is trying to cope with a crippling recession, a fight to contain the outbreak of the Zika virus which has been officially linked to birth defects, and is about to stage the Olympic Games in the Summer.