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Dilma Rousseff takes impeachment fight to Supreme Court

Attorney general requests annulment of impeachment proceedings against Brazil's president.

Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has taken her battle to survive impeachment to the Supreme Court in a last-ditch attempt to stay in office a day before the Senate is expected to vote to try her for breaking budget laws.

Brazil's Attorney General Eduardo Cardozo, the government's top lawyer, asked the Supreme Court to annul impeachment proceedings on Tuesday, his office said.

Cardozo's move comes before a vote that could see Rousseff suspended from office for up to six months to stand trial and, eventually, removed from office.

Rousseff's opponents have more than the 41 votes needed to launch her trial in the upper chamber of the Congress, and they are confident that they can muster two-thirds of the 81 senators, or 54, to unseat the president.

As the prospect grew of Rousseff's removal and a potential end to 13 years of rule by her leftist Workers' Party, anti-impeachment protesters blocked roads and burned tyres in the capital Sao Paulo and other cities on Tuesday. Morning traffic was disrupted as protesters clashed with police.

Earlier on the same day, Waldir Maranhao, the acting speaker of the lower house of Congress, withdrew his controversial decision to annul last month's impeachment vote in the chamber.

Maranhao, a little-known politician before he took over last week after the removal of Eduardo Cunha for obstruction of a corruption investigation, faces expulsion from his centre-right Progressive Party, which supports Rousseff's impeachment.

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that the Rousseff case exposed the flaws in Brazil's judiciary system.

"Sixty percent of the Congress is under some kind of scrutiny or investigation, and when I think of all the major parties, the Workers' Party, Dilma Rousseff's party, is probably the least corrupt, although they had several corruption scandals within the Workers' Party too," he said. "The whole system needs reform."

The Workers' Party and labour unions called for a national strike to resist what they call a "coup" against democracy.

The impeachment process comes as Brazil is mired in its worst recession since the 1930s and shaken by the country's biggest ever corruption scandal, which together have paralysed Rousseff's second-term administration.

Rousseff has steadfastly denied committing any impeachable crime and has vowed to fight impeachment by all means legally possible. She has dismissed calls for her resignation.


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