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Brazil house speaker reverses opposition to Rousseff impeachment

AFP PHOTO/ANDRESSA ANHOLETE | Waldir Maranhao, the interim speaker of the lower house of the Brazilian Congress, speaks to the press in Brasilia on May 9, 2016

The interim speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress on Tuesday said he had reversed a decision to annul the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Roussef

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Waldir Maranhao said in a statement that he “reversed the decision” on Monday to cancel the April vote by lawmakers that launched the process, a formality that clears the way for Rousseff’s impeachment to go ahead, Brazilian media reported.

His move comes after Senate president Renan Calheiros on Monday dismissed Maranhao’s annulment, saying the Senate would still go ahead with the impeachment.

The vote against Rousseff is back on track after descending into confusion Monday with Congress’s two leaders arguing over whether it should continue.

Rousseff faces being suspended from office if the Senate votes as now appears likely to open an impeachment trial at a session starting Wednesday.

However, in a stunning twist of events on Monday, Maranhao had declared that the whole process was flawed and should be brought back to square one.

The original vote by lower house deputies sending Rousseff to face the Senate had “prejudged” the president and denied her “the right to a full defense,” Maranhao said.

He called for the Senate to halt proceedings and for the lower house to hold a new vote.

The order prompted consternation in the capital, with Rousseff’s allies seeing a possible escape route for the president and her opponents reacting furiously.

Rousseff huddled in an emergency meeting with ministers and all eyes turned to see how the Senate would react.

Calheiros did not take long.

“I ignore” the order, Calheiros said in a nationally televised session to raucous applause and angry shouting from rival senators on the floor.

Calheiros called Maranhao’s intervention in the impeachment drama “absolutely untimely” and “playing with democracy.”

(AFP)

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