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Brazil's Lower House Green-lights Presidential Impeachment
   2016-04-18 11:35:58    Xinhua      Web Editor: Min Rui

Congressmen, who support or oppose the impeachment, demonstrate before a session to review the request for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment, at the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. The signs read "Impeachment yes" and "Brazil against the coup. "[Photo: CFP]

The lower house of Brazil's parliament on Sunday evening gave the go-ahead for the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

The green light from the Chamber of Deputies came after the move passed the threshold of a two-thirds majority, or 342 lawmakers. It now means the Senate will open a formal impeachment trial in the coming weeks.

Should a simple majority be reached in its first vote, the Senate would take up the measure, and Rousseff would be forced to suspend her presidency for 180 days, during which Vice President Michel Temer would serve as acting president.

Should a two-thirds margin be reached in the Senate's second vote, Rousseff would be removed from office, and Temer would take over the presidency.

But if the impeachment failed to clear the Senate, the president would be reinstated.

Rousseff's chief of staff, Jaques Wagner, said the government is confident that the upper house will dismiss the impeachment.

In a spirited exchange on the Chamber floor, lawmakers were given their turn to briefly explain their votes.

Proponents of the impeachment claimed that they were standing up for the people and against a corrupt government, while loyalists of the Workers' Party (PT), to which Rousseff belongs, thundered that they were fighting to prevent a coup.

According to Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Temer, whose Brazilian Democratic Movement Party has quit the ruling coalition, followed the vote in his official residence with bigwigs of his party, including Senator Romero Juca, with whom he is reported to have been planning his next move.

Rousseff watched the vote from the Alvorada Palace, the official presidential residence, together with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other allies.

The mood in the Rousseff camp has become increasingly pessimistic in recent days amid a flurry of frenzied negotiations on both sides of the impeachment process, according to O Globo.

PT lawmakers were originally confident that they would secure at least 200 votes to block the impeachment, yet their confidence faded as their count fell to 130 shortly ahead of the vote.

In a last-ditch attempt to raise support, Rousseff released a speech on social media on the weekend stressing that "the sovereign will of the people is at stake. Social achievements and the rights of Brazilians are at stake."

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