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Brazil government's main coalition partner quits

Brazil's largest political party has pulled its support of President Rousseff's government. The PMDB has called on its six remaining cabinet ministers to resign immediately.

Brazil's governing coalition collapsed on Tuesday as the centrist PMDB party quit President Dilma Rousseff's government. The embattled leader is also facing impeachment over sprawling corruption investigations relating to her time on the board of

state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

The PMDB, the nation's largest political party, called for an "immediate exit" from the administration, telling its six

remaining ministers

in Rousseff's cabinet to resign or face internal ethics investigations.

"From today, at this historic meeting of the PMDB, the PMDB withdraws from the government of President Rousseff," said Senator Romero Juca, the party vice president, at a press conference.

The move was not entirely unexpected, as earlier in the day the party had announced a leadership meeting that was described by party member Osmar Terra as "an exit meeting, a goodbye to the government. We calculate we have a vote of more than 80 percent in favor of quitting."

"Dilma's government is finished," said Senator Aecio Neves, whose opposition party, the PSDB, narrowly lost to the president when she as re-elected in 2014.

The news was too little too late for some, with PMDB politician and president of the lower house of parliament Eduardo Cunha saying the party took too long to break with Rousseff.

PMDB's move drastically increases the odds that parliament will impeach the president. If she is removed from office, Vice President Michel Temer (above right), who is a PMDB member, will take her place.

While Rousseff herself has yet to comment on the developments, an official in her administration, speaking to the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, said the president had been forced to cancel an upcoming trip to Washington for a nuclear summit.

"Since she accepted the invitation things have changed radically. She will stay home to deal with the ongoing crisis," said the source.

es/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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