In a holdover news from yesterday, after 22 hours of debate and a vote of 55-22, the Brazilian senate today suspended the President Dilma Rouseff on charges that she had broken government accounting rules while in power. Vice President Michel Temer member of centrist Brazilian Democratic Party took over the reins.
With this development, the clouds of uncertainty continue to fare over Brazil which we’ve also discussed earlier.
Rouseff stands suspended from office for a period of six months till the 81 member cabinet decides her fate. A two thirds majority vote against her in the impeachment trial would remove her permanently, effectively ending 13 years of leftist rule in the country.
Addressing her supporters Rouseff said that she had made mistakes but that she had committed no wrong doing. She denounced the impeachment as a “coup”.
“What is at stake is respect for the ballot box, the sovereign will of the Brazilian people and the constitution,” Rousseff said. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the previous President was by her side when she gave her last speech.
She dismissed her cabinet before leaving including minister in charge of the Olympic Games. A onetime Marxist guerrilla tortured under the country’s military dictatorship in the 1970s, Rousseff will stay on in her official residence along with her mother and continue to get her salary as well as official security.
Temer as President has his work cut out for him. He now faces the challenge of restoring peace in the country as well as healing the economy which has spiralled down into a severe recession. Brazil which is due to host the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in less than 3 months, is also struggling with political issues, and the fallout of a corruption scandal which has rocked the country.
In his first words as acting President Temer 75, said that reviving the economy would be his first priority. He insisted that the reforms initiated by the leftist government would not be dismantled but rather ‘perfected’. The leftist government had created reforms that lifted millions out of abject poverty.
“We must significantly improve the business environment for the private sector,” Temer said.
Temer chose leading figures from nine centrist and conservative parties for his cabinet, but there is no woman in this cabinet. Henrique Mereilles, former central bank president, who is a popular and respected figure, was appointed as finance minister. However, the choice of an all white cabinet by Temer would be a sore point for this predominantly non-white nation.
“It’s a government of white men and quite frightening,” said analyst Ivar Hartmann, a public law expert at the FGV think tank in Rio de Janeiro. “It’s the first time since the (1964-1985) dictatorship that there has not been a single woman. This is worrying.”
There were mixed reactions from the international community at this change of leadership. Countries of Latin America expressed solidarity with Rouseff while others like the US were more accepting of the governments decisions.