Brazil's Rousseff seeks speedy vote on impeachment bid

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2015 10:58 AM

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's President Rousseff urged Congress on Monday to cancel its summer recess in January and deal swiftly with a request for her impeachment to nip in the bud an attempt to unseat her that she called undemocratic and legally flawed.

Rousseff's opponents are seeking to impeach her for allegedly breaking budget laws as she ramped up economic stimulus during her re-election campaign last year.

Their request was taken up last week in the lower house of Congress, which was expected to name a 65-member committee later on Monday to report whether she committed an impeachable offense.

Rousseff's aides have said she has enough votes to block impeachment in the lower house, but that could change as her opponents whip up anti-government sentiment.

An early vote before Brazilians get back from their January holidays may favor Rousseff, since the pro-impeachment campaign could gain momentum as a plunging economy is expected to worsen early next year, feeding unemployment and inflation.

Rousseff said the country cannot wait that long for a decision because prolonged uncertainty will worsen an economic downturn that is expected to be the longest since the 1930s.

"In this situation of political and economic crisis that the country is living, I think it is important to call back Congress," she told reporters in Brasilia. "It is not correct for the country to be kept waiting until February 2."

Rousseff said she had no reason to distrust Vice President Michel Temer, who has not publicly taken a position on her impeachment. If two-thirds of the house vote for impeachment, the president would be suspended pending a 180-day trial in the Senate, while the vice president runs the country.

Temer's fractious centrist party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), holds votes that can tip the balance for or against Rousseff in Congress, but he has kept a low profile since the impeachment proceedings were launched last week.

His silence and the resignation of a key PMDB minister from Rousseff's Cabinet on Friday led to speculation that Temer is positioning himself to become president if she is impeached.

"He has always been extremely fair with me. I have no reason to distrust him one iota," Rousseff said.

Asked about his public silence, she said, "Silence depends on who is listening. I have not heard any silence at all."

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)