Brazil’s lower house, Chamber of Deputies, has voted to start impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.
Dilma Rousseff is accused of manipulating government accounts.
The “yes” camp comfortably won the required two-thirds majority, after a lengthy session in the capital.
The motion will now go to the upper house, the Senate, which is expected to suspend Dilma Rousseff next month while it carries out a formal trial.
The 68-year-old president denies tampering with the accounts to help secure her re-election in 2014.
Her ruling Workers’ Party has promised to continue its fight to defend her “in the streets and in the Senate”.
Dilma Rousseff’s opponents secured 367 votes in the lower house – exceeding the 342-vote mark needed to send the motion to the Senate.
The “no” camp secured 167 votes, while seven other deputies abstained. Two deputies were not present during the voting.
Voting began after passionate statements from lawmakers and party leaders in a session broadcast live on television as well as on large screens in city centers.
If the Senate votes for impeachment, Dilma Rousseff will be put on trial in the upper chamber and will be removed from office permanently if found guilty. She has two opportunities to appeal during the whole process.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters watched the voting marathon on huge TV screens in cities across the country – Dilma Rousseff’s supporters wearing red and her opponents wearing the green and yellow of the Brazilian flag.
Some 25,000 protesters from both sides were outside the Congress building – separated by a makeshift 6.5ft high metal wall, that stretches for 0.6 miles.
The “yes” camp burst into celebrations even before the two-thirds of the votes had been secured.
The atmosphere has so far been peaceful and almost festive with music, fancy dress and people blowing trumpets and vuvuzelas.
Dilma Rousseff has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, and on April 16 wrote in one newspaper her opponents wanted to “convict an innocent woman and save the corrupt”.
The Brazilian Supreme Court has upheld the result of an impeachment vote against President Dilma Rousseff.
Dilma Rousseff, who says her opponents are plotting a “coup”, faces claims she manipulated government accounts.
The president has vowed to fight to “the last minute” despite the desertion of three allied parties ahead of Sunday’s vote in the lower house of parliament.
The Supreme Court made its decision in an extraordinary session.
The impeachment debate in the lower house of parliament is due to start today and continue until April 17 vote. If two-thirds of lawmakers vote for impeachment, the motion will pass to the Senate.
An impeachment vote would pave the way for Dilma Rousseff to be removed from office.
Yesterday’s injunction to suspend the vote was filed by Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo who claimed that alleged procedural failings had violated the president’s right to a defense.
Seven of 10 justices voted to reject the motion even before the Supreme Court session had finished.
The Progressive Party (PP), which quit the coalition on April 12, says most of its 47 lawmakers would vote for the impeachment, and the Republican Party (PRB) said its 22 members had been told to vote in favor.
The move comes weeks after the PMDB, the largest party in the lower house, voted to leave the coalition. The PMDB’s leader in the lower house, Leonardo Picciani, said on April 14 that 90% of the party’s members would vote to impeach Dilma Rousseff.
Lawmakers from Dilma Rousseff’s own Workers’ Party are said to be increasingly despondent about April 17 vote.
The allegations, which Dilma Rousseff denies, are that she juggled the accounts to make her government’s economic performance appear better than it was, ahead of her election campaign two years ago.
Dilma Rousseff’s supporters say the issue is not valid grounds for impeachment.
On April 12, the president seemed to suggest that her Vice-President, Michel Temer, was one of the ringleaders of the “coup” attempt against her.
Dilma Rousseff said a widely distributed audio message of Michel Temer appearing to accept replacing her as president was evidence of the conspiracy. However, she did not identify him by name.
Brazil is “living in strange times”, she said, “times of a coup, of farce and betrayal”.
Lawmakers are due to start debating on April 15, with voting beginning on April 17 at about 14:00. The result should be known later in the evening.
Security is expected to be stepped up around the Congress building in Brasilia as the vote takes place.
Brazil’s Progressive Party (PP) has announced it is quitting the governing coalition ahead of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment vote.
The president is now dealing with a further blow to her bid to stave off impeachment.
The PP said most of its 47 lawmakers would vote for Dilma Rousseff to be impeached.
Last month the PMDB, the largest party in Brazil’s governing coalition, also voted to leave.
Dilma Rousseff, who faces an impeachment vote in the lower house on April 17, says her opponents are plotting a “coup”.
They claim she manipulated accounts to hide Brazil’s growing deficit ahead of her election campaign two years ago. Dilma Rousseff denies this and her supporters say the issue is not valid grounds for impeachment anyway.
A PP spokeswoman told AFP news agency on April 12: “The party decided to withdraw from the… alliance, by majority decision.”
The PP is the fourth-largest party in the 513-seat lower house but it is not clear how its departure from the government might affect April 17 vote.
A two-thirds majority – 342 alawmakers – is needed to send the impeachment case to the Senate.
A recent poll, before the PP’s announcement, showed 300 in favor of impeachment and 125 opposed, leaving 88 lawmakers still undecided or not stating their position.
On April 122, Dilma Rousseff suggested that Vice-President Michel Temer was one of the ringleaders of the “coup” attempt against her.
She said a widely distributed audio message of Michel Temer appearing to accept replacing her as president, was evidence of the conspiracy. However, she did not identify him by name.
“They now are conspiring openly, in the light of day, to destabilize a legitimately elected president,” Dilma Rousseff said.
She referred to “the chief and… the vice-chief” of the plot, an apparent reference to Michel Temer and lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha.
Brazil is “living in strange times”, she said, “times of a coup, of farce and betrayal”.
Michel Temer has said that the message was released by accident.
Speaking in an interview with the conservative Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper on April 12, Michel Temer argued that he had spent weeks away from the capital Brasilia specifically so that no-one could accuse him of plotting behind the scenes.
On Monday evening, amid rowdy scenes, a 65-member congressional committee voted 38 to 27 to recommend going ahead with impeachment proceedings.
Lawmakers are due to start debating on April 15, officials said, with voting beginning on April 17 at about 14:00. The result should be known later in the evening.
Security is expected to be stepped up around the Congress building in Brasilia as the vote takes place.
While President Dilma Rousseff’s opponents say the impeachment is supported by most Brazilians, the president’s supporters have labeled it a flagrant power grab by her political enemies.
If Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer are both suspended from office, the next in line to assume the presidency is Eduardo Cunha.
However, Eduardo Cunha is facing money-laundering and other charges.
A Brazilian congressional committee voted to go ahead with President Dilma Rousseff impeachment proceedings.
The 65-member committee voted 38 to 27 to recommend impeachment over claims Dilma Rousseff manipulated government accounts to hide a growing deficit.
All eyes will now be on a full vote in the lower house on April 17 or 18.
The issue has divided Brazil, with police preparing for mass protests in the capital, Brasilia.
Photo Getty Images
The vote took place amid chaotic scenes with supporters and opponents of President Dilma Rousseff shouting slogans and waving placards.
The committee’s vote is largely symbolic, but has been watched as a measure of how much support there is for the impeachment process ahead of the crucial vote in the full lower house of Congress, correspondents say.
There, a two-thirds majority is needed to send the matter on to the Senate. The latest opinion poll by the Estadao daily suggests 292 of the 513 members are in favor, with 115 against and 106 undecided.
The Senate would then have the power to suspend Dilma Rousseff, put her on trial and ultimately drive her from office.
During a bad-tempered debate leading up to the vote, Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cordozo, speaking for the president, said the impeachment process was “flawed”.
“It is absurd to dismiss a president who has not committed crimes, nor stolen a penny. And such a process without crime or fraud, would be a coup,” he said.
Opposition lawmaker Vanderlei Macris said Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment would be important to Brazilian society and would bring change.
Brazil’s tourism minister Henrique Eduardo Alves has stepped down before vote on President Dilma Rousseff’s coalition.
Opposition lawmakers want to remove Dilma Rousseff over claims she manipulated accounts to hide growing deficit.
Officials from Dilma Rousseff’s coalition allies, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), will vote to leave the alliance on March 29, members said.
Tourism Minister Henrique Eduardo Alves became the first PMDB member to resign from government on March 28.
Dilma Rousseff, a former political prisoner during Brazil’s military government, began her second term in office 14 months ago.
However, her popularity has plummeted amid corruption allegations around senior members of the governing Workers’ Party.
The speaker of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, agreed in December to open impeachment proceedings against her.
Last week, Dilma Rousseff, who denies wrongdoing, said the procedure amounted to a coup. She met officials from the PMDB ahead of that party’s national leadership meeting on March 29.
However, a number of lawmakers from the PMDB said ahead of the meeting that most members had already decided to abandon the coalition.
The PMDB is headed by Michel Temer, Dilma Rousseff’s deputy, who would become president should she be removed.
The loss of support by his party’s 69 lawmakers could have consequences for the impeachment proceedings. Dilma Rousseff needs the support of a third of the 513 members of the lower house of Congress to stave off impeachment.
The Workers’ Party has been in power since former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in for his first term in 2003.
It has been hit by a long-running investigation into bribes from contractors working for state oil company Petrobras.
A recent attempt by Dilma Rousseff to appoint Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her chief of staff was seen by critics as an attempt to shield him from money-laundering charges – which he denies – connected with the case.
His appointment was blocked by a judge earlier this month.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on March 28 he expected Dilma Rousseff to survive growing pressure, and said he would speak to Michel Temer to work out how to save her job.
Protests involving tens of thousands of people have taken place across Brazil to call for Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.
According to poll by the Datafolha poll in late February, only 11% of respondents across the country said President Dilma Rousseff’s performance was “good or excellent”.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said she will take legal action against Senator Delcidio Amaral who has accused her of involvement in corruption at the state oil company Petrobras.
Delcidio Amaral said Dilma Rousseff knew of wrongdoings and tried to block investigations.
Dilma Rousseff has denied any involvement.
Meanwhile, the new justice minister has threatened to remove teams from the Petrobras inquiry if any more material is leaked to the press.
In a statement, Brazil’s presidency said Dilma Rousseff will sue Senator Delcidio Amaral for defamation over his interview with a magazine.
Delcidio Amaral was the leader of her Workers’ Party in the Senate and had agreed a plea bargain with prosecutors after being arrested as a result of the Petrobras scandal.
The inquiry has led to the arrest or investigation of dozens of executives and politicians, suspected of overcharging for contracts with Petrobras and using part of the money to pay for bribes and electoral campaigns.
There is widespread public support for the investigation, known as Operation Car Wash, but Dilma Rousseff and her allies have criticized its leading judge, Sergio Moro.
They argue the inquiry has become politicized and some of his actions have been illegal.
Last week, Judge Sergio Moro released phone recordings suggesting Dilma Rousseff had appointed her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her chief of staff to spare him arrest over money-laundering charges he denies.
Even though Dilma Rousseff vehemently denies it, Supreme Court judge Gilmar Mendes has suspended Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s nomination, and a final decision is yet to be announced.
If Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is a minister, any charges against him can only be dealt with by the Supreme Court, which operates more slowly, and not by Sergio Moro.
Earlier this month, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was briefly detained and questioned at Sergio Moro’s request.
Dilma Rousseff’s supporters have also criticized leaks of questioning and details of the investigation to the media.
New Justice Minister Eugenio Aragao questioned the publication of the unverified phone tap conversations between Dilma Rousseff and Lula and said the Car Wash investigation was losing its objectivity.
The release of the recordings has also been criticized by Supreme Court judge Marco Aurelio Mello, who has questioned its legality.
However, the content of the phone calls has increased pressure on Dilma Rousseff, who is facing growing calls for her removal.
Additionally, there has been a resurgence in allegations of media bias against Dilma Rousseff and her Workers’ Party.
Much of the criticism has been against Globo, Brazil’s largest media group and one of the biggest in the world, allegations it denies.
In 2013, Globo issued an announcement about its support of the 1964 military coup, which led to a two-decade military dictatorship, and admitted it had made a “mistake”.
Tens of thousands of people have joined pro-Dilma Rousseff rallies in Brazil to show support for the president who is facing calls for her impeachment.
Earlier, police used tear gas on anti-government protesters in Sao Paulo.
Several protests against Dilma Rousseff erupted two days ago after she appointed the former Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as a minister.
Meanwhile, a Supreme Court judge has suspended Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s nomination as minister.
The decision is not final, and the government can appeal. In naming Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff is accused of shielding him from charges of money-laundering, which he denies.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who remains a popular leader, addressed protesters early in the evening. Wearing a red shirt, he said: “There will not be a coup against Ms Rousseff.”
The former president also said the opposition did not accept the results of the 2014 election, in which Dilma Rousseff was re-elected for another four-year term.
“Democracy is the only way to allow people to participate in government’s decisions,” he told a cheering crowd.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he was joining Dilma Rousseff’s government to help the country and said Brazil, which is in its worst recession in decades, needed to resume growth.
Organizers said about 300,000 people demonstrated there, but the respected Datafolha institute put that number at 95,000.
Smaller rallies were also held in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and dozens of other cities.
Hours earlier, riot police dispersed anti-government protesters who had blocked the same central Sao Paulo thoroughfare since March 16, when demonstrations erupted against Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s appointment as minister.
The nationwide rallies on March 18 were the first time the government had massed the ranks of supporters since Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was briefly arrested earlier this month.
They came after mass protests across Brazil on March 13 against corruption and calling for Dilma Rousseff’s departure. Estimates of the turnout range from one million to three million demonstrators.
Opponents who have called for Dilma Rousseff’s removal also accuse her of economic mismanagement and involvement in a sprawling corruption scandal in the state oil company Petrobras.
Dilma Rousseff denies wrongdoings, and has accused her rivals of mounting a “coup” against her.
The president insisted that she appointed Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had started to make overtures to stand for president in 2018, to help her rebuild her political base in Congress and fight the impeachment proceedings.
However, Supreme Court judge Gilmar Mendes suspended Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s nomination as chief of staff on March 18, saying it was an intention to interfere in investigations.
Opponents had argued that Dima Rousseff’s decision was unconstitutional and obstructed justice, as it was a move made to grant Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva immunity from money-laundering charges that he denies.
As a minister, any charges against the former leader could only be dealt with by the Supreme Court, which operates more slowly, and not by the judge in the southern city of Curitiba who is overseeing Operation Car Wash into allegations of corruption at Petrobras.
Dilma Rousseff and her supporters accuse judge Sergio Moro of political interference.
Meanwhile, an impeachment committee in the lower house of Congress held its first session on March 18 and said it expected to reach a decision within a month on whether to recommend removing Dilma Rousseff.
The process is over allegations that Dilma Rousseff broke the law managing the federal budget in 2014, when she was running for re-election.
The appointment of Brazil’s ex-leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as chief of staff to President Dilma Rousseff, has been blocked by a federal judge shortly after the former president was sworn in.
Judge Sergio Moro’s injunction said there was a risk a federal investigation could be derailed if Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was a minister.
In Brazil, cabinet members can only be investigated by the Supreme Court, not by federal courts.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is under investigation in connection with a corruption scandal.
Prosecutors filed charges against the former president last week accusing him of money laundering and fraud, which he has denied.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s nomination as chief of staff has divided Brazilians.
Some said it was a move to shield him from prosecution while others welcomed his return to active politics.
Ahead of the former leader’s swearing-in ceremony, groups of supporters and opponents of the government clashed outside the presidential palace.
The ceremony itself was interrupted by a protester who cried “Shame!”.
The protester was drowned out by supporters of the governing Workers’ Party, who shouted pro-government slogans and Lula’s name.
During the ceremony, President Dilma Rousseff praised Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who she said was “not just a great politician, but a great friend and comrade of many battles”.
“We’ve always stood side by side,” she said.
A visibly angry Dilma Rousseff then criticised federal Judge Sergio Moro, who is leading the investigation into a massive corruption scandal at state-oil giant Petrobras.
On March 16, Judge Sergio Moro made public a taped phone conversation between President Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva which has been interpreted by some to show that Lula was given the post of chief of staff to shield him from prosecution.
In the conversation, Dilma Rousseff told her predecessor and mentor she would send him the official decree naming him as minister “just to use in case it’s necessary”.
The Brazilian president said Judge Sergio Moro had violated the law and the constitution by releasing the tape and that she would order an investigation.
Dilma Rousseff herself is under considerable political pressure.
Her critics want to impeach her over allegations she manipulated Brazil’s account books to hide a growing deficit.
Analysts say she named Lula chief of staff so he could use his influence with members of Congress to convince them to vote against her impeachment.
As more and more members of her Workers’ Party are being investigated over corruption at Petrobras, she is also facing increased questions about what Dilma Rousseff may have known.
Dilma Rousseff was head of the board at Petrobras from 2003 to 2010 and has always denied any wrongdoing.
On March 13, a record number of people took part in anti-government marches across Brazil.
An estimated three million people called for an end to corruption and for Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.
There have also been rallies in support of the government, but they have been smaller than those opposing the administration.
The political upheaval comes at a time of economic problems, with Brazil going through its worst recession in more than three decades.
Brazil’s ex-leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been appointed as President Dilma Rousseff’s new chief of staff.
The move shields the former president from possible prosecution by a federal judge investigating a massive corruption scandal named Operation Car Wash.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s appointment sparked protests in several Brazilian cities by those angry at the decision.
However, President Dilma Rousseff said that protecting her mentor and predecessor from prosecution was not the motivation for the appointment.
“Lula’s arrival in my government strengthens it and there are people who don’t want it to be stronger,” she said.
Under Brazilian law, cabinet members can only be tried by the Supreme Court.
On March 4, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was briefly detained and questioned over allegations of money laundering connected to Operation Car Wash, a massive investigation into corruption at the state oil giant, Petrobras.
The former president denies the allegations and says they are aimed at preventing him from running for president again in 2018.
In a taped telephone conversation released by the judge overseeing the investigation, Dilma Rousseff offered to send Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a copy of his appointment “in case of necessity” – interpreted by some as meaning in case he needed it to avoid arrest.
Hours after the announcement of his appointment, protesters gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Brasilia and in at least three other cities.
In Congress, opposition politicians gathered around a microphone during a chaotic session and chanted “resignation”.
Dilma Rousseff says the appointment is due to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva being a “skilful political negotiator” and experienced leader who will help kick off economic recovery.
During his time in office, the Brazilian economy experienced unprecedented economic growth and wealth redistribution.
“I believe [former] President Lula, who was in charge of the country for eight years, cannot have his reputation destroyed in this manner,” added Dilma Rousseff.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other ministers appointed on March 16 are expected to be sworn in at 10:00 local time on March 17.
As chief of staff, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to lead the fight against moves in Congress to impeach President Dilma Rousseff over allegations she manipulated Brazil’s account books to hide a growing deficit.
Brazil’s ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has accepted a key ministerial role in President Dilma Rousseff’s government, media reports say.
Members of the governing Workers’ Party say Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s appointment will strengthen Dilma Rousseff’s beleaguered administration.
In becoming a minister, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will also have some legal protection.
Last week, prosecutors requested the former leader arrest in a money laundering inquiry over a luxury sea-front penthouse.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has denied any wrongdoing and says the claims are politically motivated.
The reports, quoting unnamed sources, said Dilma Rousseff and the former president would meet in Brasilia on March 15. There has been no official comment.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva handpicked Dilma Rousseff as a candidate to succeed him in 2010, and has not ruled out running again in 2018.
Dilma Rousseff has faced increasing calls for her removal as a result of a corruption scandal at the state oil company Petrobras and Brazil’s worst recession in decades.
On March 13, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets calling for her to go. But the president has repeatedly said she will not resign.
Dilma Rousseff could, however, face an impeachment process in Congress, accused of masking the budget deficit, which she denies.
One of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s main tasks, the reports said, would be to negotiate with the main coalition partner in order to prevent an impeachment going ahead.
His appointment could also be seen as bringing some order to what many analysts consider a chaotic administration.
As a minister, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could only be tried in the Supreme Court, placing him out of the reach of the judge in the southern city of Curitiba responsible for the Petrobras investigation.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has accused her political opponents of seeking to oust her government by “coup-mongering”.
Speaking at a meeting of union leaders in Sao Paulo on October 13, Dilma Rousseff also said the opposition was spreading hatred and intolerance across Brazil.
Dilma Rousseff’s comments come after an audit court last week ruled that she broke the law in managing last year’s budget.
The opposition says this could pave the way for impeachment proceedings.
President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected less than a year ago but currently has record low popularity ratings.
Addressing the gathering, Dilma Rousseff accused the opposition of practicing “deliberate coup-mongering” against a “project that has successfully lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty”.
“The artificiality of their arguments is absolute, their poisoning of people in social networks, their relentless game of <<the worse she does, the better for us>>,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Dilma Rousseff’s remarks follow the ruling of the Federal Accounts Court on accusations that the government borrowed money illegally from state banks to make up for budget shortfalls.
The minister who handled the case in the court, Augusto Nardes, said the government disregarded fiscal and constitutional principles in the handling of the 2014 accounts.
The irregularities amount to more than 100 billion reais ($26 billion), according to the court.
The opposition said after the ruling it would seek impeachment proceedings in the Congress.
Also last week, Brazil’s top electoral authority said it would re-open an investigation into alleged misuse of funds during Dilma Rousseff’s re-election campaign.
The Brazilian economy has gone into recession and is expected to shrink by 3% in 2015.
The government’s popularity has fallen amid corruption scandals involving senior politicians from Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party and other coalition members.
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