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Brazil in Disarray as Impeachment of President Dilma Declared Invalid

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The effort to oust President Dilma Rousseff was thrown into chaos on Monday (May 9) when the new speaker of the Chamber of Deputies (Lower House) of Brazil revoked a vote to impeach her.

Senate leaders vowed to defy the decision, promising to decide the president’s fate this week anyway.

Senate Speaker Renan Calheiros rejected the attempt by Waldir Maranhao, the lower house’s acting speaker, to halt the process.

Lawmakers on both sides of the issue said they would rush to the Supreme Court, hoping for an answer on whether the impeachment proceedings would move forward as planned.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Wednesday (May 11) on whether to start an impeachment trial.

The president of the Senate impeachment commission also said the vote would take place as scheduled.

If a simple majority of senators decides in favour, Rousseff will be suspended and Vice President Michel Temer will take over until a trial is conducted.

The battle over impeachment is happening at a time when Brazil is reeling from multiple crises, including its worst economic downturn in decades, the Zika epidemic and an enormous corruption scandal engulfing the national oil company.

At the same time, the nation is preparing to hold the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a city grappling with a brutal crime wave and doubts over the safety of infrastructure projects built around the Games.

President Rousseff faces accusations that she borrowed money from state banks to plug budget holes, masking the depths of Brazil’s economic troubles to bolster her re-election prospects.

Rousseff’s once-overwhelming public support has eroded with the onslaught of bad news, with her approval ratings dipping into the single digits in recent months. While polls have suggested broad public support for her impeachment, they have also pointed to widespread worry about who might replace her.

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