Brazil's lower house has begun the impeachment procedure against the country's embattled president. Dilma Rousseff stands accused of violating finance laws in regard to the country's budget.
Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the lower house of Brazil's parliament, said on Wednesday that impeachment proceedings have been opened against President Dilma Rousseff.
Cunha said he officially accepted an impeachment petition, which was filed by opposition figures on the grounds that Rousseff manipulated the budget to fill budget holes.
An impeachment trial is still a long way off, however, as the procedure must pass several stages before it can reach a vote to oust the leader. As part of the next step, two-thirds of the lower house must approve the impeachment process for it to then move forward.
Rousseff speaks out
In a televised address to the nation, President Rousseff expresssed "outrage" with Cunha, saying, "I do not have any offshore bank accounts, I have no hidden assets."
That claim is a dig at Cunha, who is under investigation for bribery and offshore bank accounts in Switzerland.
Speaking further, she said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing, saying, "I've committed no illicit act; there is no suspicion hanging over me of any misuse of public money."
In October, the country's Federal Accounts Court ruled that Rousseff had manipulated funds despite repeated attempts by the government to delay the court's vote on the matter.
Rousseff has had to fend off criticism from both the public and her political opponents. Her ratings have sunk amid Brazil's economic downturn, and a corruption scandal involving energy giant Petrobras has further raised doubts among voters.
smm, blc/gsw (AP, AFP)