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Rousseff says she's victim of 'a coup'

Bruce KonviserMay 12, 2016

Following her suspension from office, Brazil's president has vowed to defend herself through all legal means. She is accused of manipulating budget figures to win re-election - a move she says is routine.

Profile shot of Brazil's impeached president Dilma Rousseff against a black backdrop.
Image: Reuters/U. Marcelino

Defiantly and emotionally, suspended President Dilma Rousseff maintained her innocence and vowed to fight the impeachment proceedings against her and her suspension from office, which she repeatedly called a coup during a live broadcast on Thursday to the Brazilian people.

She repeatedly referred to her 180-day suspension - while the impeachment proceedings continue to unfold – as "a coup," noting that she won the 2010 election by more than 12 points, with nearly 56 million votes.

Calling it a "decisive moment for Brazilian democracy," she said: "At stake is not just my term in office but the sovereignty of the Brazilian people and the constitution."

Protesters int he streets, drapped in green Brazilian flags, with some carrying horns, celebrate Rousseff's impeachent.
Supporters of Rousseff's impeachment after senate voteImage: Imago/A. Mauricio

She cited a series of social gains brought forth by her Workers Party going back to the successive four-tear terms of her predecessor Luiz "Lula" da Silva. Over the last 13 years, successive WP governments have passed laws protecting children, raising the minimum wage, and developing a housing boom so that most Brazilians could dream of owning own home.

She slammed the political opposition for refusing to work constructively and for manufacturing a scandal.

"Since I have been elected, part of the opposition did not accept that I won," she said. "They tried to annul results and began conspiring to impeach me."

People celebrate in Brasilia

'Innocent, honest person'

But moments later she, again, rejected the impeachment term.

"When an elected official is suspended for an act I have not committed, it is not an impeachment; it is a coup," she said, and went on to deny the allegations against her.

"I don't have bank accounts abroad," she said. "I have never taken bribes.

With her voice filled with emotion, Rousseff, at times, appeared to be on the verge of bursting into tears.

"It is against an innocent and honest person," she said of the allegations against her. "It is brutal. It is unfair in justice to condemn an innocent person."

'A historic injustice is being committed'

For now at least, and perhaps permanently if the conclusion of her impeachment hearing goes against her, Rousseff has been replaced by her one-time political ally turned rival, Vice President Michel Temer, who himself is under investigation for political malfeasance.

Earlier on Thursday, Brazil's Senate voted 55-22 to impeach Rousseff, triggering her suspension and elevating Temer to the presidency.

He has already begun filling out his cabinet and is expected to address the nation on Thursday.