Brazilians protest as Rio prepares for Olympics

2016-07-31 21:37
A demonstrator shouts after singing the Brazil's national anthem during a protest on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. (Silvia Izquierdo, AP)

A demonstrator shouts after singing the Brazil's national anthem during a protest on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. (Silvia Izquierdo, AP)

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Rio de Janeiro - Protesters turned out on Sunday for lightly attended demonstrations in Rio against embattled President Dilma Rousseff, five days before the start of the 2016 Olympic Games.

About 4 000 protesters gathered on the beach at Copacabana in a festive atmosphere with sound trucks blasting out a mix of samba and the national anthem.

Marchers carried an enormous banner that read "Dilma out and prison for Lula," a reference to former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was charged on Friday with obstruction of justice in an ongoing corruption probe.

"We want our country back and for these people to go," said Vilma Moniz Portella, a lawyer carrying a small inflatable doll of the judge leading the probe into bribes and kickbacks at state oil giant Petrobras.

The scandal has shaken Brazil's political and business establishment, casting a shadow over the August 5-21 Olympic Games, the first ever held in a South American country.

Marchers said the turnout was smaller in Rio than at past protests calling for Rousseff's impeachment that have attracted hundreds of thousands of people.

Rousseff's impeachment trial for alleged violations of budgeting rules is set to begin on August 29. A two-thirds vote by the Senate would remove her from office.

Suspended from office on May 12, she was replaced on an interim basis by Vice President Michel Temer. If Rousseff is ousted, he would finish out her mandate, which runs until the end of 2018.

In Brasilia, about 3 000 protesters dressed in the green and yellow colours of the Brazilian flag took part in a demonstration against Rousseff outside the Congress, according to police estimates.

Similar anti-Rousseff protests were called in other cities, including Sao Paulo, Recife, Salvador and Belo Horizonte.

Rousseff's supporters, meanwhile, were expecting thousands of protesters to turn out for demonstrations against Temer in several cities.

Read more on:    olympics 2016  |  brazil

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