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Olympic flame lands in Brazil as Rousseff impeachment draws closer

The Olympic flame has arrived in Brazil's capital amid ongoing impeachment moves against President Dilma Rousseff. Officials insist the political chaos will not harm the Olympics.

The Olympic flame arrived Tuesday in the Brazilian capital Brasilia, carried by Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee (photo).

It was sent from the ancient Greek site of Olympia via Switzerland on a TAM jetliner escorted by two Brazilian Air Force fighters. The flame was transferred to Brazil's Olympic torch featuring waves of tropical colors.

The flame has started out on a 90-day relay through 300 cities in Brazil with 12,000 torch bearers carrying it to the opening ceremony of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium on August 5. It will be the first time the Olympic Games have been held in South America.

If looks could kill. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (L) and Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer (R)

If looks could kill. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (L) and Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer (R)

Igniting the fire

President Dilma Rousseff, who's facing the threat of impeachment, ignited the torch in the capital.

"Brazil is ready to host the most successful Olympics in history," Rousseff said in a speech just before the begining of a nationwide torch relay.

The president also took the moment to address the political crisis confronting her country. "We know political problems exist in our country today," she said. "We know there is political instability. Brazil will be capable in a difficult period, a very difficult, critical period in the history of our democracy of dealing with the problems."

Overly optimistic?

A motion to impeach her was filed by the lower house of Congress two weeks ago and she is likely to be suspended on May 11 or 12 when the senate votes on opening an impeachment trial. Given the political makeup of the senate, a vote to suspend her looks almost certain.

Rousseff - somewhat hopefully - has called for a truce, as was the tradition in ancient times of war when the Olympic flame arrived. "I am certain that a country whose people know how to fight for their rights and to protect their democracy is a country where the Olympics will have great success in the coming months," she said.

She also said that "Brazil will provide the very best reception for athletes and foreign visitors because we have created the conditions for this."

Impeach or be damned

If impeached, Vice President Michel Temer would replace Rousseff during a trial that would likely last up to 180 days. Roussef, meanwhile, has branded Temer a "traitor" and claims to be the victim of a coup.

A senate vote on Rousseff's fate could take months more, but unless she is cleared Temer would stay in power until the next scheduled elections in 2018. "O Globo" newspaper has reported that Roussef has been considering stepping down to allow for fresh elections in October.

We fight, we fight to win

Rousseff has vowed to

"fight to the end"

and said that if suspended she would hunker down at the presidential residence on half pay for up to six months. She would then attempt to persuade senators that the accounting tricks she is accused of do not amount to an impeachable offense.

However, her Workers' Party - which has dominated and transformed the country since 2003 - is fighting to prevent impeachment from turning into a shift to the right. Rousseff's presidential predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, hopes to run for president again in 2018. Polls show he would be a frontrunner, beating the unpopular Temer.

jbh/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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