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Rousseff comes out swinging after impeachment vote

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has struck a defiant note as her impeachment case moves swiftly through Congress. The Senate is expected to vote next month on whether to force her to stand aside.

Rousseff edged closer toward impeachment Monday following Brazil's lower house of Congress voting with 367 of 513 lawmakers backing impeachment. She could be forced to stand aside as early as next month.

In her emotional appeal Monday, she said she was "outraged" by the vote and insisted she'd committed no impeachable offense.

"I have strength, spirit and courage. I will not be beaten, I will not be paralyzed. I will continue to fight and I will fight as I did all my life," she said in the remarks carried live on television.

Parliamentarians hold up pro-impeachment signs.

The process to impeach Rousseff now goes to the Senate

Rousseff's party allies have voted to appeal to the Supreme Court if there's pressure to speed up the process of removing the president.

The impeachment process now heads to the Senate which is expected to begin voting May 11. If the Senate takes it up, Rousseff would be suspended while a trial is conducted

"There are requests to speed up the process, but we won't be able to accelerate it in a way that appears hurried," Senate President Renan Calheiros said. "We can't put it off either. We will defend the legal process."

Infografik Wie funktioniert das Amtenthebungsverfahren von Dilma Rousseff Englisch

Political crisis deepens

The political showdown comes as Latin America's largest economy is mired in a deep recession and a corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras even as the country of 200 million prepares to host the Summer Olympics in Rio in August.

Opinion polls conducted by Brazilian media say the opposition has the simple majority necessary to open the trial in the 81-member Senate on charges that Rousseff illegally manipulated budget figures to mask a public deficit.

That would lead to a six-month suspension. A definite ouster requires a two-thirds majority vote.

Listen to audio 07:40

Brazil's political chaos splits families

Opposition rallies in recent months have played a big role in turning pressure against Rousseff. But the center-left leader has called on allied trade unions to bring supporters into the streets, sowing increasing divisions among the Brazilian public.

That means anger on the streets could again play a role as the stakes in the crisis rise even higher.

A one-time guerrilla fighter who was tortured under Brazil's former military dictatorship, Rousseff was hand-picked by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to succeed him - becoming Brazil's first woman president.

A political novice - she had never held elected office before - Rousseff quickly gained a reputation for her prickly leadership style and aversion to playing political games.

Watch video 01:20

Impeachment process: What happens next in Brasilia?

jar/se (AFP, Reuters)

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