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Rousseff wants early elections if survives impeachment

June 15, 2016

Brazil's suspended President Rousseff has said if she survives an impeachment trial in the Senate she will offer a new political pact. This might include a referendum on early elections, but few are holding their breath.

Image: Reuters/A. Machado

Dilma Rousseff told a select band of foreign journalists on Friday that she was preparing a letter to be released before the Senate votes in mid-August on whether to convict her of breaking budget laws.

Rousseff said she wanted "a plebiscite" on her mandate, though didn't provide details on how it might work. "I don't have any problem asking what the people want," she added. "In any case, the only way that a president's mandate should be interrupted is via a plebiscite."

Rousseff said the country was experiencing a political "weariness" and that many citizens no longer believed in the process. "This has to be overcome," she said. "If there needs to be new elections, I would be in favor."

For early elections to be called, however, both Rousseff and interim president, Michel Temer, would have to resign or be removed from office.

Murky business

Rousseff was impeached and suspended by the Senate last month for allegedly using fiscal tricks to conceal large gaps in the federal budget. She denies wrongdoing. The Senate voted 55-22 in May to remove her after heavy politicking, both inside and outside parliament.

Brazilian acting President Michel Temer
Acting president Michel Temer has been blasted by Rousseff supporters for what they have called a "coup" against her regimeImage: Getty Images/AFP/E. Sa

She argues that some members of parliament want her sidelined politically so they can avoid being implicated in an investigation into billions of dollars in bribes at state oil company Petrobras, much of which happened while her Workers' Party was in office.

Leaked recordings of Temer allies talking about how to avoid the Petrobras investigation have added to Rousseff's contention.

One down, more to go?

Meanwhile, as Rouseff works to convince the Senate to support her reinstatement, a legislative ethics committee voted on Tuesday in favor of a motion to strip the former speaker of Congress' lower house of his mandate. This over allegations he had lied when he denied possessing foreign bank accounts.

Eduardo Cunha, one of Brazil's most powerful men, was removed from the post of speaker but still holds considerable influence in Congress.

Swiss prosecutors say that Cunha held secret accounts at the Julius Baer bank worth an estimated $5 million, funds that Brazilian investigators suspect are linked to corruption at Petrobras.

Cunha was a strong advocate of the impeachment process against Rousseff.

jbh/bw (Reuters, AP)