Brasília (AFP) – Brazil’s lower house speaker triggered impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday, setting the stage for a political battle that could see the country’s first female leader forced from office.
“It’s to authorize the initiation (of impeachment), not to judge on its merits,” Speaker Eduardo Cunha told journalists after officially accepting an impeachment petition, which now goes to a committee which will decide whether or not to authorize a trial.
The petition, filed by opposition figures and a founder of Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party, accuses her of illegally fiddling government accounts to mask budget holes.
Cunha’s decision sparks a long and complex procedure that has to pass several legal hurdles before a full impeachment trial leading to a possible vote against Rousseff.
Experts are divided on whether she would survive, many calling the case against her relatively weak, but also noting her deep unpopularity among voters and tepid backing even from deputies and senators in her ruling coalition.
“I take no pleasure in carrying out this act,” Cunha said. “I am profoundly sorry this is happening.”
Cunha’s decision comes as the powerful politician faces a fight for his own political life, with the lower house debating whether he should be removed from his post because of corruption charges.
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