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Brazil's Dilma Rousseff: Impeachment is a coup

Defiant president addresses nation after Senate suspends her for 180 days launching probe for breaking budget laws.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has addressed the nation in a defiant speech from outside the presidential palace, calling Senate's decision to suspend her for 180 days "a coup".

Rousseff said on Thursday that what hurt her most was her understanding that she was what she called "a victim of a legal farce and a political farce".

"When an elected president is suspended because of a crime I haven't committed, the name we give is not impeachment, but a coup," Rousseff said.

"I may have made mistakes but I did not commit any crime," she said. "The coup d’état threatens to undo true victories of last decade."

She said she was proud to be the first woman to be elected president in Brazil and pledged to not give up the struggle against "the coup".

"I have fought my entire life for democracy, I have had many victories," she said, in reference to her youth fighting Brazil's military dictatorship. "The struggle for democracy has no date and no deadline."

Rousseff, 68, has been in office since 2011. Her suspension came hours after the Senate voted 55-22 to put her on trial, a decision that ended more than 13 years of rule by the left-wing Workers Party.

The party rose from Brazil's labour movement and helped pull millions of people out of poverty before seeing many of its leaders tainted by corruption investigations.

Rousseff's replacement

She will be replaced by Vice President Michel Temer for the duration of a Senate trial that could take up to six months.

As suspended head of state, Rousseff can continue to live in her official residence, have a staff and use an Air Force plane.

Rousseff dismissed her cabinet, including the sports minister, who is in final preparations for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August, Brazil's Official Gazette showed. The central bank governor, who has ministerial rank, was not included in the decree.

Fireworks rang out in cities across Brazil after the vote that followed a 20-hour session in the Senate.

Police briefly clashed with pro-Rousseff demonstrators in Brasilia during the vote, but the country was calm early on Thursday, with scattered celebrants in Sao Paulo and other cities draping themselves in Brazil's green, yellow and blue flag.


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