Brazil House speaker weighs possibility of Rousseff impeachment

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 16, 2015 11:14 AM

By Maria Carolina Marcello

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The speaker of Brazil's Lower House of Congress said on Thursday he is analyzing a move to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, acknowledging the possibility of ousting a sitting president for the first time in nearly 23 years.

Eduardo Cunha, a leader of the PMDB party who is in charge of deciding whether to move ahead with impeachment, said such proceedings would be a step backwards for democracy, but added that he expected a legal analysis on the matter within 30 days.

Some opposition lawmakers have called to impeach Rousseff over alleged campaign finance irregularities tied to a multibillion-dollar bribery scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Cunha has also been named in a Supreme Court investigation of corruption at Petrobras, known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Although his party is formally a part of the governing coalition, Cunha has dealt Rousseff a series of embarrassing defeats in Congress and his opposition has grown more strident as the chance of formal charges nears.

In April, Cunha had rejected outright the possibility of impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff, who won a narrow re-election in October but has seen her popularity plunge due to the corruption scandal and a likely recession.

On Tuesday, Brazilian police carried out their first search and seizure operations aimed at sitting lawmakers in the Petrobras probe, seizing luxury cars from the home of Senator Fernando Collor de Mello, a former president impeached in 1992.

(Additional reporting by Alonso Soto and Silvio Cascione; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Marguerita Choy)