Rousseff rallies Brazil anti-impeachment crowd

2016-05-02 07:17
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff blows a kiss towards supporters during the May Day rally in Sao Paulo. (Andre Penner, AP)

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff blows a kiss towards supporters during the May Day rally in Sao Paulo. (Andre Penner, AP)

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WATCH: Congress votes to impeach Roesseff, Brazillians go wild

2016-04-18 15:50

Brazil's lower house of Congress voted late on Sunday to impeach president Dilma Rousseff, delivering a major blow to the embattled leader. Watch Brazillians celebrate the announcement...WATCH

Sao Paulo - Brazil's embattled leftist President Dilma Rousseff vowed at a protest on Sunday to go down fighting ahead of what could be her final full week in power before impeachment.

Thousands of people attended May Day rallies organised by labour unions in cities across Latin America's biggest country, with Rousseff telling a crowd in the financial powerhouse Sao Paulo that she would "fight to the end".

The traditional Labour Day celebrations were dominated by anger at the impeachment drive, described by Rousseff as a coup based on trumped up charges aimed at returning Brazil's centre-right to power.

Rousseff, whose Workers' Party has held the presidency since 2003, told the Sao Paulo rally that opponents are "ripping up the constitution" and plotting to undo policies that seek to lift tens of millions of people from grinding poverty.

"If they can do this to me, what will they do to working people?" she asked, announcing a new increase to the family allowance programme called Bolsa Familia.

The crowd chanted: "There won't be a coup, there'll be a struggle!"

Rousseff, in only the second year of her second term, could be suspended from office as soon as May 10 or 11 when the Senate is expected to vote to open a trial on charges of illegal government accounting.

If so she'd be replaced by her vice president, Michel Temer, the leader of Brazil's biggest centre-right party and a former coalition partner in Rouseff's government.

A final vote in the Senate later this year, possibly in September, could remove her office definitively and keep Temer in power until elections in 2018.

Although Rousseff appears nearly certain to be suspended, she and her allies, including charismatic former president Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, hope the case will collapse when it comes to the final vote, where a two- thirds majority of senators is needed to pass impeachment.

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