Thousands of Brazilians demonstrate against impeachment

2016-04-01 11:14
Demonstrators protest in support of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Andre Penner, AP)

Demonstrators protest in support of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Andre Penner, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Braslia - Tens of thousands of Brazilians waving the red flags of the ruling Workers' Party demonstrated across the country on Thursday against impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

The rallies were part of a concerted fight-back by the president, who is reeling in the face of impeachment proceedings for allegedly manipulating government accounts to disguise the depth of Brazil's recession during her 2014 reelection.

Further boosting Rousseff, her chief ally in the spiraling political crisis - fiery ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva -- won a major court battle that removes him from the jurisdiction of a crusading anti-corruption judge.

The peaceful pro-Rousseff demonstrators gathered in 31 cities, including Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and northern centers like Recife. Although a reliable total estimate was not immediately available, at least 25 000 to 30 000 turned out in Brasilia alone, police told AFP.

"No to the coup," said one placard popular at the protests. "Democracy," read a large banner at the gathering in Rio, which will host the Olympics in five months, where more than 5 000 people turned out.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil's financial powerhouse, Francisco Ranieri, 50, said he had taken to the streets "because now is the moment."

"The opposition wants to push Dilma (Rousseff) from power to end the people's government," added Ranieri, a shopkeeper.

Lula, the hugely influential founder of the Workers' Party and pillar of Brazil's left, had been due to lead the Brasilia rally but cancelled at the last minute. His spokesman did not explain the change in plan.

Court victory

Just as protesters gathered, Lula won a significant court victory that could help boost Rousseff's cause.

Rousseff has been counting on the well-connected ex-president to reorganize her flailing administration and lead the fight against impeachment in Congress.

But the leftist heavyweight's comeback has been derailed by corruption charges linked to a huge probe led by federal Judge Sergio Moro into a bribes and embezzlement scheme at state oil company Petrobras.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued an interim ruling removing the politically explosive case from Moro and putting it with the high court - a decision expected to give Lula considerable breathing space.

It was a rare victory for Rousseff whose chances of defeating impeachment are thought to have nosedived this week. She has dismissed the impeachment drive as a trumped up campaign that amounts to a slow coup.

On Thursday, she told a group of artists and academics in Brasilia that the accounting tricks she's accused of using illegally were common practice in previous governments.

"If I suffer impeachment, then it means that every previous government should have been impeached too, because all of them, without exception, did the same thing," she said. "I was always respecting the law."

Battle for votes

Congress's preliminary impeachment commission is expected to begin deliberations next Tuesday before making a recommendation mid-April.

Its recommendation is non-binding but will set the tone for a vote shortly after by the lower house, where 342 votes out of 513, or two thirds, are needed to launch an impeachment trial in the Senate.

If Rousseff manages to get more than 171 votes she would defeat the measure, but impeachment could also fail through abstentions or deputies not attending so that the 342 figure is not reached.

Until only recently Rousseff seemed likely to narrowly prevail, despite her unpopularity and the intense hostility of opponents in the increasingly divided country.

But the exit this week from her coalition of the country's biggest party, the centrist PMDB, left her congressional support in tatters.

Loyalists are putting on a brave face, insisting that they can cobble together a new coalition and also target individual congressional deputies, regardless of their party's affiliation.

With seven ministries that had been held by the PMDB and some 580 other posts to hand out, the government hopes it will be able to horse-trade for support.

Read more on:    dilma rousseff  |  brazil

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.