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Brazil's President Rousseff takes battle against impeachment to UN forum

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has denounced the impeachment process launched against her as a 'coup.' She intends to appeal for Brazil to be suspended from a regional bloc if the democratic process is broken.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff took her defense against impeachment to an international audience at the United Nations in New York on Friday as she attended the signing ceremony for the Paris climate change agreement.

USA Vereinte Nationen Unterzeichnung Klimaabkommen von Paris - Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in the UN General Assembly Hall

The impeachment process against her has "all the characteristics of a coup" as it has no legal basis, Rousseff said. She also said she would appeal to the Mercosur bloc of South American nations for Brazil to be suspended if the democratic process was broken.

"I would appeal to the democracy clause if there were, from now on, a rupture of what I consider democratic process," she told reporters in New York on Friday.

Mercosur has a clause allowing a member state to be suspended and lose its trade benefits if an elected government is overthrown. It was used in the case of Paraguay in 2012.

While addressing the UN, Rousseff said: "I cannot conclude my remarks without mentioning the grave moment Brazil is currently undergoing. I have no doubt our people will be capable of preventing any setbacks."

Impeachment

The ongoing impeachment process has paralyzed Rousseff's government and presented the country with its most severe political crisis since it returned to civilian rule in 1985.

Parties represented in the Senate announced on Friday the names of representatives to participate in the special commission on the impeachment, which is set to begin its work on Monday. They include Vice President Michel Temer, who backs impeachment, as well as former football player Romario and ex-government minister Fernando Bezerra, both members of the Brazilian Socialist Party, who oppose it.

Last Sunday, the lower house of Congress's vote to impeach was carried by 367 votes in favor, 137 against, 7 abstentions and two absentees.

Rousseff is accused of breaking budget laws, which she has denied.

Watch video 02:16

Rousseff defiant after impeachment vote

Should Rousseff be impeached by the Senate when it votes, probably in mid-May, Temer would replace her as she awaits trial. In interviews with US publications published on Friday, Temer said he was ready to govern.

The office of lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha issued a statement on Friday saying: "The accusations against the President are very serious. Her actions led to economic chaos, besides violating the Constitution."

jm/sms (EFE, Reuters)

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