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Dilma Rousseff at the mercy of Brazilian senate

Suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff gave an impassioned personal defence yesterday (Monday) in her only appearance at a trial expected to rule in favour of her impeachment and removal from office.

Published: 30th August 2016 07:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2016 07:51 AM   |  A+A-

Dilma Rousseff_AP

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. |AP

BRASILIA: Suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff gave an impassioned personal defence yesterday (Monday) in her only appearance at a trial expected to rule in favour of her impeachment and removal from office.

Addressing a packed Senate, Ms Rousseff commanded the hushed floor for 45 -minutes to repeat her denials of wrongdoing amid allegations of creative accounting, staunchly refusing to resign or abandon her cause.

The former Marxist guerrilla, who brought up her torture under the military dictatorship, compared the impeachment process to the struggle for democracy and called on senators to vote against a "coup" that was based on "mere pretexts".

But eight months after the process began, there were signs of resignation in Ms Rousseff's speech that indicated she fully expected to be ousted when the Senate votes today or tomorrow. She later indicated that she might appeal to the Supreme Court if the result goes against her.

"Today, four decades later, there is no illegal arrest, there is no torture, my -judges got here by the same popular vote that led me to the Presidency," she said. "I have for all of them the greatest -respect, but I keep my head up, looking into the eyes of my judges. Despite the differences, I suffer again with the feeling of injustice and I fear that once again, democracy is condemned along with me. And I have no doubt that this time too, we will all be judged by history."

Though her speech was greeted with brief applause and cheers of "Dilma, warrior of the Brazilian people", the tone of the Senate was more sombre and reverent than previous hearings and few expected it to change the minds of voting senators. With a majority of two thirds, or 54 votes, Ms Rousseff will be removed from office and replaced by interim president Michel Temer for the rest of her term.

Polls suggest that more than 50 senators have -already declared their intention to vote Ms Rousseff out. The result is expected to mirror the last poll when the Senate voted for -impeachment by 59 to 21.

Instead, Ms Rousseff appeared yesterday to want to give a defence of her character and record as president.

"In this journey to defend myself against impeachment, I got closer to the people," she said. "I heard harsh criticisms of my government, the mistakes that were made and the policies and measures that were not adopted. I welcome such criticism with humility because, like everyone, I have faults and make mistakes.

"Among my faults is not disloyalty and cowardice. I do not betray the commitments that I assume, the principles that I defend or those who fight beside me."

In the gallery was former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who maintained an impassive stare throughout, and Chico Buarque, musical legend, writer and activist.

Senator Otto Alencar said he suspected none would change their minds and that his vote against impeachment was a "vote for a lost cause".



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