Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said she will not step down despite allegations of corruption and an impending impeachment. Her comments come amid a massive anti-corruption crackdown in the country.
"I committed no crime that could justify the interruption of my mandate under the constitution," Rousseff said in a speech from the presidential palace. "There is just one name for that: a coup," she said.
A congressional committee is currently reviewing a case to impeach the president. The members allege that she fudged the government's accounts to boost public spending in 2014, downplaying Brazil's economic recession.
"I will never resign...not under any circumstances." Rousseff vowed.
The committee is also debating whether to include Rousseff and her Workers' Party's involvement in a "professional" bribe-paying network at Odebrecht, a construction company implicated in a corruption scheme linked to oil giant Petrobras.
Rousseff headed Petrobras for most of the time while the investigation was going on. Although she herself has not been charged, several politicians from her party, including Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have been implicated.
Things took a turn for the worse last week, when a lawmaker accused in the scam alleged Rousseff "knew everything" about the scheme and also used proceeds to fund her 2010 and 2014 election campaigns.
Last week, Dilma also tried to bring her former mentor Lula back into her cabinet - a measure that would have shielded him from prosecution. However, Brazil's Supreme Court has blocked this move, and another high court judge on Tuesday rejected Lula's request to overturn the ruling. For now, at least, the former president lacks ministerial immunity and remains exposed to possible arrest.
Dozens of suspects arrested
On Tuesday, around 380 officers took part in a major sting seeking to catch at least 10 suspects accused of corruption, money laundering and racketeering. Raids were carried out in nine states to execute 43 arrest warrants and temporary detention orders.
Odebrecht had a "professional and institutionalized" system for bribery, federal police spokeswoman Renata Rodriguez told journalists in Curitiba in southern Brazil, which serves as headquarters for the Petrobras investigation.
Police accuse Odebrecht of conspiring with competitors and splitting Petrobras contracts over a decade, paying huge bribes and inflating the contracts by even larger amounts. The company's officials reportedly paid a bribe for building a stadium that hosted the opening match of the Football World Cup in 2014.
Odebrecht is one of the largest construction groups in South America. Earlier this month, the company's former CEO, Marcel Odebrecht, was sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison. Investigators have also snagged several Petrobras executives and 34 lawmakers are under investigation.
mg/msh (Reuters, AFP)