SAO PAULO: Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets on Sunday to demand President Dilma Rousseff’s ouster in the first nationwide protests since formal impeachment proceedings began against the leftist leader.
A congressional committee is considering her impeachment for allegedly violating budget laws to increase spending during her 2014 re-election campaign. But many Brazilians are more upset about a deepening recession and a corruption scandal that has ensnared many in her party.
“We are tired. We want change. Out with this corrupt gang!” one activist shouted into a loudspeaker in the capital Brasilia, where police estimated a maximum 6,000 people were gathered in front of Congress, in the smallest of four main protests this year.
Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha opened impeachment proceedings on Dec 2. Currently the opposition is not thought to have the votes to impeach Rousseff, who denies mishandling public accounts and has pledged to fight impeachment with all legal tools available in order to finish her second term.
If the house committee decides in favor of impeachment, the process will go to a full vote on the house floor, where the opposition needs two-thirds of the votes to begin a 180-day impeachment trial in the Senate. During that trial, Rousseff would be suspended and replaced by Vice President Michel Temer.
The Supreme Court has suspended impeachment proceedings until it rules on the validity of a secret ballot vote that selected the members of the house committee. Meanwhile Cunha, a former ally who broke with Rousseff this year, is facing formal charges for allegedly taking bribes in a massive corruption scandal focused on state-run oil firm Petrobras.
A house ethics committee is also deciding whether to investigate Cunha for lying about having Swiss bank accounts, which could cost him his seat and favor Rousseff’s chances of surviving impeachment proceedings.