Tuesday 27 September 2016

Brazil's Dilma Rousseff signals referendum if she wins impeachment trial

Published 11/06/2016 | 05:46

Dilma Rousseff said Brazilians should be consulted on the future
Dilma Rousseff said Brazilians should be consulted on the future
Demonstrators attend a rally in support of Brazil's suspended President Dilma Rousseff (AP)

Suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is suggesting she would hold a national referendum if she survives an impeachment trial expected in August.

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She said in an interview aired by state-run TV Brasil that Brazilians should be consulted on the future, even if the Senate does not permanently remove her from office.

Such a referendum could lead to a new presidential election.

Ms Rousseff was impeached and suspended May 12. She is accused of using illegal accounting techniques to hide large budget deficits. She has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

"Given the level of contradiction among different political actors in this country, it is necessary to appeal to the population," the suspended president said.

"I think it can be some sort of plebiscite. I won't give a full menu here, but this is something under intense discussion."

Politicians who support neither Ms Rousseff nor acting President Michel Temer have called for new elections to resolve the nation's political crisis.

For that to happen, both would have to resign or be removed from office before the end of the year. Otherwise, by law, Congress would choose a new president to serve out the second half of Ms Rousseff's four-year term that ends in 2018.

"Only a popular consultation can wash away and rinse this mess that the Temer administration is," Ms Rousseff said.

Allies of the interim president have rejected calls for new elections.

Ms Rousseff's suggestion comes as an increasing number of senators say they have not decided how they will vote in the trial.

After just a month in charge, Mr Temer has become as unpopular as Ms Rousseff.

He has been dogged by a series of damaging leaked audio recordings, the abrupt exit of two ministers due to corruption probes, allegations of graft involving other interim officials and criticism after he appointed a Cabinet of all white men.

Even before Mr Temer took office, 58% of the population wanted his impeachment, according to a Datafolha poll in April. At that time 61% wanted Ms Rousseff out too.

Anti-impeachment protests occurred in at least 18 states and Brazil's capital Brasilia on Friday, with thousands taking to the streets.

In Sao Paulo demonstrators blocked the city's main road, Avenida Paulista.

Press Association

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