SAO PAULO: Supporters of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called mass street rallies Friday in her defense, counter-attacking in a political crisis that threatens to drive her from office.
As police fired tear gas and stun grenades to keep at bay angry protesters demanding Rousseff’s resignation late Thursday, her embattled left-wing support base mobilized.
They called rallies for Friday in more than 30 cities—a chance for a show of strength after three million people joined in anti-government demonstrations last weekend.
The rival protests followed a day of political drama as lawmakers on Thursday relaunched impeachment proceedings against Rousseff, 68.
The courts, meanwhile, blocked her bid to bring her powerful predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva into the cabinet.
Rousseff and her allies are fighting off corruption allegations and struggling with discontent over a deep recession.
The setbacks for the leftist leader came a day after new evidence in a corruption scandal: a wiretapped telephone call that pointed to connivance between Rousseff and her predecessor and mentor Lula.
Rousseff swore in Lula, 70, as her new chief of staff on Thursday.
A judge in Brasilia issued a ruling suspending that appointment over allegations that she was trying to protect him from corruption charges by giving him ministerial immunity.
That ruling was overturned late Thursday on appeal, but a separate federal court in Rio de Janeiro upheld another lawsuit blocking Lula’s appointment.
Rousseff accused her enemies of mounting a “coup” against her.
Thursday’s events plunged Rousseff’s government into deeper uncertainty as she struggles with public anger, economic chaos and the splintering of her coalition in congress.
Lula and Rousseff have between them governed Brazil for the past 13 years. He presided over a boom, but political and economic crises are now gripping Latin America’s biggest economy.