BRASILIA Brazil’s Supreme Court suspended impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff until it rules on the validity of a secret ballot that stacked a congressional committee with opponents searching for to oust the leftist leader.
The ruling provided respite for Rousseff as she struggles to survive splits in her ruling coalition and fend off the work to unseat her. She is also dealing with a serious recession and a widening corruption investigation at state-run oil company Petrobras that has implicated numerous of her allies.
Rousseff is not below investigation in the kickback scandal. But her former point man in the Senate, Delcidio Amaral, who is in jail awaiting trial on charges of obstructing the Petrobras probe, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. That could lead to new disclosures involving her ruling Workers’ Party (PT).
The choice by a Supreme Court judge late on Tuesday stopped the creation of the impeachment committee until the country’s top court rules on Dec. 16 regardless of whether the secret ballot was valid.
Justice Luiz Edson Fachin, who was appointed by Rousseff, said the impeachment process had to be suspended to stay away from actions that may later be invalidated by the Supreme Court.
The ruling could favor Rousseff by curbing the power of her political foe, lower property Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who named a secret ballot to allow wavering members of Rousseff’s coalition to back a pro-impeachment committee without having public record.
Cunha, who himself faces allegations of corruption, launched the impeachment proceedings last week based on an opposition accusation that the president violated budget laws with accounting tricks employed by her government to allow ramped up spending in the course of her re-election campaign last year.
Rousseff, in workplace because 2011, has denied wrongdoing. She reiterated that on Wednesday at an occasion in Boa Vista, a northern town near the border with Venezuela where she handed out low-cost houses. “I did nothing at all wrong. There was no graft,” Rousseff mentioned, adding she was becoming impeached for spending also significantly on social programs.
Numerous Brazilians want to see Rousseff go since they blame her for the worst recession in 25 years, which is getting deepened by concern over the country’s political future.
Brazil came a single step closer to losing its prized investment-grade credit rating on Wednesday when Moody’s Investors Service mentioned it was studying a attainable downgrade simply because of the deteriorating economy, widening fiscal deficit and rising dangers of political paralysis.
Cunha faces a number of accusations of taking bribes on Petrobras contracts and stashing millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts. He has denied the charges.
The house ethics committee was due to vote on Wednesday on no matter whether to investigate Cunha for lying about Swiss bank accounts, which could price him his seat, but his backers delayed a choice with an injunction removing the committee’s rapporteur.
ROUSSEFF BASE WEAKENED
In Tuesday’s secret ballot, lawmakers voted 272-199 for a committee controlled by Rousseff’s opponents and pro-impeachment members of Cunha’s centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the greatest party in her coalition.
The tumultuous session almost collapsed into chaos throughout an angry debate more than the secret vote.
According to Congresso em Foco, a prominent Brasilia watchdog group, a third of the lawmakers named on the committee are below investigation by the Supreme Court for corruption, cash laundering, electoral fraud and other crimes.
The injunction request at the Supreme Court was filed by the Communist Celebration of Brazil, a small but staunch Rousseff ally, adding to an earlier complaint by the party on the constitutional validity of the impeachment request.
If an impeachment committee finds against Rousseff, the approach will go to a full vote on the property floor, exactly where the opposition needs two-thirds of the votes to commence a 180-day impeachment trial in the Senate. In the course of that trial, Rousseff would be suspended and replaced by Vice President Michel Temer.
Adding to Brazil’s political crisis is a developing rift amongst Rousseff and her vice president, whose fractious PMDB celebration is divided over the impeachment of the president and moving closer to breaking away from her coalition.
Temer and Rousseff met later on Wednesday. Both released identical, one particular-sentence comments following the meeting saying they agreed to have a “productive relation.”
The vice president has failed to publicly assistance the president during the impeachment proceedings.
Tuesday’s vote on the impeachment committee was a blow to the PMDB leader in the decrease house, Leonardo Picciani, an opponent of impeachment since Rousseff granted his faction two Cabinet posts in October.
In a setback for the president, the celebration replaced him on Wednesday with Leonardo Quintao, a congressman much less sympathetic to her.
“Removal of Picciani from the PMDB leadership hastens the dismantling of Rousseff’s parliamentary base,” said Senator Aloysio Nunes of the major opposition PSDB celebration. “She will finish up with just the Workers’ Celebration and the Communist Party.”
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello, Anthony Boadle, Silvio Cascione and Reese Ewing Editing by Frances Kerry and Peter Cooney)