BRASÍLIA: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s allies appealed Thursday to the Supreme Court to block impeachment proceedings, warning of a political “storm” in Latin America’s biggest country.
The day after the speaker of the lower house of Congress triggered the impeachment process against Rousseff on grounds that she illegally manipulated government accounts, her Workers’ Party sprang into action.
“The mere opening of the procedure is capable of causing a real political, administrative, economic and social storm, with international repercussions,” said the party’s appeal to the Supreme Court, also warning of a “lack of procedural guarantees” for Rousseff.
The leftist party’s strong stand, following a defiant and angry statement from Rousseff late Wednesday, signaled the start of a political fight that experts say will paralyze a country already suffering from a deepening recession and a spiraling corruption scandal centered on state oil giant Petrobras.
If the impeachment proceedings clear all hurdles, it could take as long as six or seven months before a final decision is made on Rousseff’s fate, analysts say.
Accusing the accuser
Paulo Pimenta, a Workers’ Party deputy, told AFP complaints filed at the Supreme Court argue that Speaker Eduardo Cunha is using the impeachment drive to save his own career after being accused of taking bribes in the Petrobras scheme.
The Supreme Court appeal charges Cunha with “abuse of power and using the legislative power structure to defend himself” from moves to strip him of his post, Pimenta said.
As speaker, Cunha alone has authority to accept or turn down petitions for the president’s impeachment and he accepted one filed by several lawyers alleging that Rousseff used illegal methods to mask holes in the government budget.
On Thursday, he set the machinery in motion by ordering creation of a special committee featuring representatives of all the parties in the lower house that will decide whether to continue considering impeachment.
If the 66-strong committee decides yes, the case would go to a vote in the full house. If a two-thirds majority approves there, it then goes to the upper house for an impeachment trial, where another two-thirds majority would force Rousseff from office.