Lawmakers in Brazil handed embattled President Dilma Rousseff a sobering defeat late Sunday, voting overwhelmingly to impeach her.
After more than five hours of sometimes loud deliberations, the leader of the Workers Party in the lower Chamber of Deputies conceded defeat, Reuters reported, saying her allies couldn’t keep Rousseff from facing trial in the Senate on charges of manipulating budget accounts.
With at least 342 of 513 deputies, or two-thirds, voting in favor of impeachment, the measure passed late Sunday, The Associated Press reported. Several lawmakers had yet to vote, so the final tally could be even wider for the opposition.
Luiz Carlos Hauly, a deputy in the Social Democratic Party, the main opposition party, said Rousseff had to go.
“In Europe they change their government when it doesn’t have the majority,” he said. “This administration has no majority. It doesn’t have the means to govern.”
Simone Morgado, a member of the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement, said impeachment proponents were trying to derail a democratically elected president.
“Given that Dilma didn’t commit any crime, like so many others in this chamber, which has no shame, I’m voting ‘no!’,” she said.
Outside the legislature, waves of pro- and anti-impeachment demonstrators flooded into the capital of Brasilia from across the huge nation.
Lawmakers began voting late Sunday afternoon after three hours of heated debate on whether to impeach Rousseff on charges that she misappropriated funds from public banks to shore up the government’s finances as she faced a tough re-election in 2014.
She denies the allegations and has described the impeachment push as a coup.
The lawmakers were each being allowed to speak before casting their votes, a process that lasted hours.
If the Senate votes to proceed with the matter, Rousseff will be suspended, and the top job would be handed to Vice President Michel Temer, who Rousseff has criticized as being part of the push against her. The Senate then conducts impeachment hearings.
The impeachment crisis comes as Brazil prepares for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, tackles to combat the Zika virus linked to birth defects and tries to recover from the worst recession in a century.
At the congressional building in the capital of Brasilia, Eduardo Cunha, the house speaker leading the drive to oust Rousseff, announced the rules for Sunday’s proceedings, prompting some lawmakers to shout and wave the Brazilian flag and signs that say, “Goodbye, sweetheart.”
Source: USA Today | Shannon Sims and Alaine Ball