Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil committee head recommends Rousseff's impeachment

Brazilian congressman and rapporteur of the impeachment committee against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Jovair Arantes, gestures as he speaks to the press at the Chamber of Deputies in Brasília on March 21, 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jovair Arantes is the head of the congressional committee tasked with analysing the president's impeachment

The head of a congressional committee in Brazil set up to analyse whether President Dilma Rousseff should face an impeachment vote has given his recommendation.

Lawmaker Jovair Arantes said he thought there were enough grounds for impeachment proceedings to continue.

President Rousseff is alleged to have manipulated government accounts to hide a growing deficit, which she denies.

Mr Arantes' decision is non-binding but could sway undecided lawmakers.

The 65-member committee which Mr Arantes heads will vote on Monday on whether it thinks the impeachment proceedings should go ahead.

Rousseff under pressure

The Brazilian president faces a battle to stay in power

  • 513 members of the lower house of Congress

  • 342 votes needed to move process to the Senate

  • 41 senators out of 81 must vote in favour to begin impeachment trial

  • 180 days she could be suspended for during the hearings

Reuters
Image copyright Reuters

Regardless of the outcome, the full lower house of Congress will convene on 17 April to vote on the matter.

That latter vote will be key in deciding whether Ms Rousseff stays in power.

But she was boosted on Wednesday when the centrist Progressive Party said it would remain in her governing coalition until the vote.

"It is clear a majority [of the PP] does not want to break with Rousseff," party leader Senator Ciro Nogueira said. "They will tend to vote for the president over impeachment."

If two-thirds of the lower house vote for her impeachment, Ms Rousseff will be suspended for 180 days, while the matter goes to the upper house, the Senate.

Image copyright AP
Image caption There have been rallies in support of President Rousseff
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption And also demonstrations calling for her impeachment.

During this time, Vice-President Michel Temer would take over as acting president.

However, Mr Temer could also face impeachment proceedings of his own.

On Tuesday, a Supreme Court justice said a congressional committee should be set up to investigate if there were grounds to impeach Mr Temer.

The allegations against him also relate to the manipulation of government accounts, which he has denied.

The two men next in line to stand in for Ms Rousseff should she be suspended are also facing legal trouble over allegations of corruption.

The speaker of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, and Senate speaker Renan Calheiros, are under investigation in connection with a massive corruption scandal at state-oil company Petrobras.

They both deny any wrongdoing.

Ms Rousseff has likened the moves to impeach her to a "coup attempt" and is lobbying hard to get the 172 votes needed to block her impeachment in the lower house.

She has also dismissed calls by an opposition senator for a snap election to be held in October to end the political impasse.

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