Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff ousted from office by Senate

Dilma Rousseff supporters vent their anger at interim president Michel Temer, who named an all-white all-male cabinet yesterday, provoking further protests. Picture: AP

Dilma Rousseff supporters vent their anger at interim president Michel Temer, who named an all-white all-male cabinet yesterday, provoking further protests. Picture: AP

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Brazil’s senate has voted to permanently remove president Dilma Rousseff from office.

The decision is the culmination of a year-long fight that paralysed Latin America’s most powerful economy and exposed deep rifts among its people on everything from race relations to social spending.

Brazil’s first female president was accused of breaking fiscal responsibility laws in her management of the federal budget.

She denied wrongdoing, and frequently pointed out that previous presidents used similar accounting measures.

Ms Rousseff later denounced the senators who removed her from office. She sent a tweet saying that “today is the day that 61 men, many of them charged and corrupt, threw 54 million Brazilian votes in the garbage”.

Ms Rousseff won re-election in 2014 with more than 54 million votes.

Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, who presided over the trial, ruled: “The Senate has found that the president of the federal republic of Brazil, Dilma Vana Rousseff, committed crimes in breaking fiscal laws.”

The opposition needed 54 of the 81 senators to vote in favour for her to be removed. They got many more, winning in a landslide of sorts, 61-20. In a second vote about 30 minutes later, Ms Rousseff won a minor victory as a measure to ban her from public office for eight years failed.

In the background of the entire fight was a wide-ranging investigation into billions of dollars in kickbacks at state oil company Petrobras. The two-year probe has led to the jailing of dozens of top businessmen and politicians from across the political spectrum, and threatens many of the same politicians who voted to remove Ms Rousseff.

She argued that many opponents just wanted her out of the way so they could save their own skins by tampering with the investigation.

Ms Rousseff’s removal creates many questions that are not easily answered. Michel Temer, her vice-president who became her nemesis, will serve out the remainder of her term until 2018. In May, he took over as interim president after the Senate impeached and suspended Ms Rousseff.

The 75-year-old career politician named a cabinet of all-white men, a decision roundly criticised in a nation that is more than 50 per cent non-white. When Mr Temer announced the opening of the Olympics, he was so vociferously booed that he remained out of sight for the remainder of the games.

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