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Rousseff Impeachment Thrown Into Confusion

  • Ken Schwartz

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff attends having in front a poster written in Portuguese "Dilma Stay, during ceremony of the Launch Program New Federal Universities, at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, May 9, 2016.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff attends having in front a poster written in Portuguese "Dilma Stay, during ceremony of the Launch Program New Federal Universities, at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, May 9, 2016.

Impeachment proceedings against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff were thrown into confusion Monday when the interim speaker of the lower house of Congress said last month's vote to send the matter to the Senate is invalid. But the leader of the Senate later said the vote will go ahead Wednesday as scheduled.

Acting House Speaker Waldir Maranhao said the April 17 vote was full of irregularities and gave Rousseff no chance to defend herself against. He said the entire question of impeachment should start over and that the House should vote again.

But Senate leader Renan Calheiros immediately said he would ignore Maranhao's declaration. He accused the interim speaker of playing with democracy and said it is up to the entire Senate, and not a single lawmaker, to decide what to do.

What happens next is unclear. The Brazilian Supreme Court could step in and decide the congressional dispute.

If the Senate puts Rousseff on trial, her presidency would be suspended and Vice President Michel Temer -- a former ally turned political enemy -- would take over.

Rousseff is accused of manipulating state funds to hide the state of the country's finances during her 2014 reelection campaign. She accuses her opponents, including Temer, of attempting a coup.

The political turmoil is occurring less than three months before Brazil opens the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and at the same time the country is battling the effects of the Zika virus.

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