Brazil senate committee backs Dilma Rousseff trial

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People take pictures of the panel showing the result of the Senate's Impeachment Special Committee against President Dilma Rousseff (06 May 2016)Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The result of the committee's vote was closely watched by Brazilians

A senate committee in Brazil has recommended that President Dilma Rousseff should face an impeachment trial for breaking budget laws.

The full senate will now vote next week on whether the trial should proceed.

If as expected the vote goes against her, Ms Rousseff will be instantly suspended for up to six months and replaced by the vice-president.

She has denied any wrongdoing, and described the impeachment procedure as a coup attempt by political enemies.

Her removal would mark an end to 13 years of rule by the left wing Worker's Party.

The senate committee on Friday voted 15-5 for the impeachment trial.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
A closer look at the panel showing the results board showed that Ms Rousseff lost by 15 votes to five
Image source, EPA

The vote paves the way for a full Senate vote on Wednesday on whether the president should face trial for allegedly manipulating budget figures.

If a majority votes in favour, she will be suspended from office and Vice-President Michel Temer will take over as interim president.

At the end of a trial that could take up up to 180 days, senators will vote on whether she is guilty or not. If convicted, Ms Rousseff will stand down permanently.

Friday's developments are the latest in a series of political manoeuvrings surrounding the president.

On Thursday Brazil's top court suspended Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha from his mandate, following a request by the country's attorney general.

Mr Cunha - an outspoken critic of the president - has been accused of trying to obstruct a corruption investigation against him and intimidating lawmakers.

Meanwhile in a recent BBC interview, Ms Rousseff vowed to "keep fighting"..

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Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff tells Wyre Davies the impeachment process is "illegal"

Under Brazil's constitution, Mr Cunha was the next in line for the presidency after Mr Temer, who is facing impeachment proceedings on charges similar to those facing President Rousseff.

BBC South America correspondent Wyre Davies says that the dramatic suspension of Mr Cunha may come too late to save President Rousseff. Our correspondent says he played a critical role in the process which now sees Brazil's first female president on the verge of suspension.

In her wide-ranging BBC interview, while declaring her own innocence, Ms Rousseff was scathing about the man who has emerged as her nemesis.

"The one person responsible for… the impeachment request (against me) is himself under charges. He's notorious, known to have foreign bank accounts and is under charges of money laundering and corruption," she said.