BRAZIL IMPEACHMENT: VOTE DEALS NEW BLOW

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Brazil (HRNW): Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has suffered a blow to her hopes of staving off impeachment proceedings, after a committee voted they should go ahead.┬áThe 65-member congressional committee voted 38 to 27 to recommend impeachment over claims she manipulated government accounts ahead of her 2014 re-election.

All eyes will now be on a full vote in the lower house starting on 17 April.The issue has divided Brazil, with police preparing for mass protests in the capital, Brasilia.

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The vote took place amid chaotic scenes with supporters and opponents of President Rousseff shouting slogans and waving placards.

The committee’s vote is largely symbolic, but has been watched as a measure of how much support there is for the impeachment process ahead of the crucial vote in the full lower house of Congress, correspondents say.

There, a two-thirds majority is needed to send the matter on to the Senate. The latest opinion poll by the Estadao daily suggests 292 of the 513 members are in favour, with 115 against and 106 undecided.

The Senate would then have the power to suspend Ms Rousseff, put her on trial and ultimately drive her from office.

‘Coup’?

During a bad-tempered debate leading up to the vote, Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo, speaking for the president, said the impeachment process was “flawed”.

“It is absurd to dismiss a president who has not committed crimes, nor stolen a penny. And such a process without crime or fraud, would be a coup,” he said.

Ms Rousseff is accused of breaking fiscal laws by allegedly manipulating government accounts to make the deficit seems smaller than it was ahead of presidential polls.

Opposition lawmaker Vanderlei Macris said an impeachment would be important to Brazilian society and would bring change.

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