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Brazil’s Senate to Decide if President Should Face Trial

Members of the impeachment committee react after voting on the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil April 11, 2016.

Members of the impeachment committee react after voting on the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil April 11, 2016.

Brazil’s political turmoil has intensified as lawmakers voted to carry forward the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff.

Lawmakers in the lower house of Congress voted late Sunday to send the case to the Senate. Now, Brazil’s upper legislative house is to decide whether to try Rousseff.

She has been charged with manipulating budget accounts before her re-election in 2014 to make the country’s economy appear stronger than it was. Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing.

The vote to impeach the president required a two-thirds majority of the 513-member lower house. Some of Rousseff's supporters cried after 367 members of the house voted to move the process forward.

Jose Eduardo Cardozo is Brazil’s attorney general. He called the vote "a coup against democracy."

The announcement of the vote caused cheering, music and dancing on the streets outside Congress where a huge crowd of Rousseff opponents had gathered.

The Senate now decides whether to try the president

The Senate could vote in early May to move forward with a trial for Rousseff. If it does, she would be forced to step down for up to 180 days while an impeachment trial is carried out.

A simple majority is needed to go ahead with a trial in the Senate. Brazilian media reported 45 out of 81 senators support a trial.

Vice President Michel Temer would assume the presidency if Rousseff is suspended. However, he has been implicated in the investigation of corruption at Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petrobras.

He also agreed to some of the government's budgetary actions that are at the heart of the impeachment case against Rousseff.

Rousseff did not make an immediate statement after the vote against her, but was expected to give her reaction later Monday.

Olympics should not to be affected

The International Olympic Committee said the impeachment process against Rousseff should not stop work leading up to the summer games. The games in Rio de Janeiro are set to start August 5.

The committee said preparation has “entered into a very operational phase, where these kinds of political issues have much less influence than at other stages of organizing the Olympic Games."

A tense political situation continues

Brazil is also in one of its worst economic recessions since the 1930s. Many of Rousseff's critics blame her. Some public opinion studies show Rousseff's popularity has dropped to below 10 percent. Other opinion polls show 60 percent of Brazilians support her impeachment.

Rousseff has not been accused of corruption. Yet her government is being investigated over bribery accusations related to Petrobas.

Congresso em Foco is an activist group in Brazil. It said that more than 300 of the lawmakers who voted against Rousseff are under investigation for corruption, fraud or electoral offenses.

The speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, has been charged with taking $5 million in bribes in the Petrobas scheme. He is also second in line to the presidency.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Ken Bredemeier reported this story for Mario Ritter adapted his report for VOA Learning English. Additional information came from VOA's Victor Beattie. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

manipulating n. to deal with or control someone in an unfair way

coup n. a sudden attempt by a small group of people to take over a government

assume v. to take on a position or job

implicate v. to show that some is involved in something (such as a crime)

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