Brazil's Rousseff voted out, Michel Temer sworn in as new President

01 Sep 2016


Dilma RousseffBrazil's Senate voted out President Dilma Rousseff 61-20 on Wednesday, in an impeachment process that followed charges of massive corruption in a country hit by prolonged economic crisis.

Dilma Rousseff, the first female president of Brazil, Latin America's largest country, was convicted by senators of illegal use of money from state banks to bankroll public spending.

The Senate, however, voted 42-36 to allow Rousseff to retain the right to hold public office - a departure from Brazilian law that bars a dismissed president from holding any government job for eight years.

The Senate appointed vice president Michel Temer as the new president to hold office till 2018. Temer, a conservative who has run Brazil since Rousseff's suspension in May, has the arduous task of pushing austerity measures in a bitterly divided nation.

Michel_TemerIn his first televised address to the nation after being sworn in as president, Temer called for unity in efforts to rescue the economy from a fiscal crisis and find jobs for the unemployed whose ranks have swelled to more than 11 per cent.

"This moment is one of hope and recovery of confidence in Brazil. Uncertainty has ended," Temer said in the speech broadcast after his departure for a G20 summit in China.

Rousseff's opponents hailed her removal as the end of 13 years of leftist Workers Party rule, which would pave the way for a change of fortunes.

Brazil's fall from a rising star among emerging economies until a few years ago was quite unexpected. Brazil's booming economy suddenly slid into its deepest recession in decades, and a graft scandal at state oil company Petrobras tarnished Rousseff's coalition.

A string of corruption scandals, led by the Petrobras scheme, has engulfed Brazil's political class and business elites over the past 2.5 years.

Millions took to the streets this year to demand her removal, less than two years after she was re-elected.

Temer will have a tough time pushing an agenda of privatisations, reforms in the generous pension and welfare laws and curbs on public spending ceiling aimed at saving Brazil's economy from the biggest slump.

Meanwhile, supporters of Rousseff, held demonstrations in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city for the third day on Wednesday, clashed with riot police forcing use of tear gas to clear the streets.

A defiant Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was tortured and jailed under military dictatorship in 1970, vowed to fight on in defense of Brazil's workers.

Addressing her supporters outside the presidential residence she insisted on her innocence and said her removal was a "parliamentary coup" backed by the economic elite that would roll back social programmes that lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty over the last decade.

"They think they have beaten us but they are mistaken," Rousseff said, adding that she would appeal the decision using every legal means. "At this time, I will not say goodbye to you. I am certain I can say 'See you soon'."

Leftist governments across the region reacted strongly to the ouster of the Workers Party's from power.

Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador withdrew their ambassadors, while Brazil responded by recalling its envoys for consultations. Cuba termed Rousseff's ouster as part of an "imperialist" offensive against progressive governments in Latin America.

The US State Department commended the ouster of Rousseff as an act within the constitutional framework of the country.

Rousseff's lawyer and former attorney general Jose Eduardo Cardozo said the ousted president will appeal her impeachment in the Supreme Court.

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