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Brazil: Interim President Michel Temer vows to restore economic growth

Brazil's new acting president has formed a pro-business cabinet and vowed to work toward lifting the economy. Many analysts argue that a tanking economy played a major role in President Dilma Rousseff's downfall.

In his first words to as acting president, on Thursday Michel Temer said he would work to revive Latin America's largest economy and seek dialogue in a country divided along multiple fault lines.

"Dialogue is the first step to facing the challenges we must overcome to move forward and guarantee a return to growth," Temer said only hours after taking over from Dilma Rousseff, who was suspended as president pending an impeachment trial.

"It is urgent to restore peace and unite Brazil," Temer said.

Immediate opposition

The opposition immediately slammed his new pro-business cabinet. The 21-member cabinet is composed of white men, a possible indication that the traditional elite would seek to undermine 13 years of left-wing policies.

Brazil has been on a roller-coaster ride over the past months, leading to a Senate vote on Thursday to try Rousseff on allegations that she hid a budget shortfall ahead of her 2014 re-election bid.

Rousseff has described the opposition move as a "coup" and vowed to fight on through legal challenges. Workers' Party supporters have taken to the streets in protest. She argues the budget maneuvers were a common practice used by previous governments and not illegal.

Watch video 01:09

Can Temer save Brazil's economy?

"I may have committed errors, but I never committed crimes," Rousseff said at a news conference earlier on Thursday. "It's the most brutal of things that can happen to a human being to be condemned for a crime you didn't commit."

The Senate will now spend up to six months deciding whether to remove Rousseff permanently from the presidency. Two-thirds of the senate is needed to remove her from office.

Temer under investigation for corruption

Unlike many of the senators, and Temer himself, Rousseff is not under investigation for corruption, even though much of the graft at state owned oil giant Petrobras happened while the Workers' Party was in power.

Temer vowed to fight corruption and maintain the wide reaching investigation into graft, though critics worry that he will use his power to undermine investigations into the country's political and business elite.

The interim president sought to smooth concerns that he would unravel social programs implemented by the Workers' Party, which have brought an estimated 35 million people out of poverty over the past decade.

Economic recovery?

Supporters of the impeachment argue that Temer could be the best bet for restoring growth to Brazil's economy.

After years of robust growth, the economy entered a recession, contracting nearly 4 percent last year with soaring inflation and unemployment. Growth estimates for this year are similar.

Many analysts argue the economy played a major role in Rousseff's downfall. Her support has tanked alongside the economy.

cw/jm (AFP, AP)

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