Brazil’s Senate voted on Thursday to impeach President Dilma Rousseff after a months-long fight that laid raw the country’s fury over corruption and economic decay, hurling Latin America’s largest country into political turmoil just months before it hosts the Summer Olympics.
Rousseff’s enraged backers called the move a coup d’etat and threatened wide-scale protests and strikes. Her foes, meanwhile, insisted that she had broken the law, and that the country’s deep political, social and economic woes could only be tackled with her on the sidelines.
The 55-22 vote means that Rousseff’s ally-turned- enemy, Vice President Michel Temer, will take over as acting president later Thursday while she is suspended. The Senate has 180 days to conduct a trial and decide whether Rousseff should be permanently removed from office.
Rousseff’s impeachment ends 13 years of rule by the Workers’ Party, which is credited with lifting millions out of abject poverty but vilified for being at the wheel when billions were siphoned from the state oil company Petrobras, the Hindustan Times reported.
Rousseff, however, has suggested that sexism in the male-dominated Congress played a role in the impeachment.
Temer, a 75-year- old career politician, has promised to cut spending and privatize many sectors controlled by the state. For weeks, he has been quietly putting together a new Cabinet in expectation of taking over, angering Rousseff supporters who accuse him of being in on a plot to oust her.
Rousseff, 68, was impeached for her alleged mishandling of the federal budget. Critics said she used accounting tricks to hide ballooning deficits and bolster an embattled government. Brazil’s first female president, who was tortured under the country’s dictatorship, has frequently blasted the impeachment push as modern-day coup, arguing she had not been charged with a crime and previous presidents did similar things.
The Senate action came after the lower house voted 367-137 last month in favor of impeachment.
Polls have said a majority of Brazilians supported impeaching Rousseff, though they also suggest the public is wary about those in the line of succession to take her place.
Rousseff has vehemently denied her administration’s financial sleight of hand moves constituted a crime and argued that such maneuvers were used by prior presidents without repercussions. She has stressed that unlike many of those who have pushed for impeachment, she does not face any allegations of personal corruption.
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