Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff has promised to call a referendum on early elections in a last-ditch effort to avoid impeachment.
Point of view
The Senate is due to hold a vote on August 25 on whether to remove Rousseff from office on charges that she doctored fiscal accounts to get re-elected in 2014.
In a public letter to lawmakers and the people she repeated that her impeachment would amount to a coup.
“Those who can judge the president and remove the president for what she did, are the people and only the people, through elections.
I give my full support for a referendum, so the people can decide to call for early elections. And for political and electoral reform as well,” said Rousseff in her open letter.
While the vast majority of Brazilians didn’t approve of Rousseff’s administration in public opinion polls, many also have doubts over whether she should be forced from office.
However Rousseff’s speech is unlikely to move her opponents in the Senate, which last week voted 59 to 21 to move forward with a trial, the final stage in a month-long process that has divided the nation and paralyzed its politics. A vote for her permanent removal, at the end of her trial, requires a two-thirds majority, or 54 votes.
If Rousseff is removed by the Senate, interim President Michel Temer will serve out the rest of her term until 2018.
In addition Rousseff and former President Lula da Silva are reportedly being investigated for allegedly obstructing a corruption probe linked to the oil giant Petrobras.
The move is likely to escalate pressure on the two leading political figures, whose Workers Party has been ensnared for months in an ongoing bribes-for-state contracts scandal known in Brazil as “Operation Car Wash.”