Brazil's Lula da Silva to lead anti-impeachment rallies

Lula da Silva calls for rally over impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and President Dilma Rousseff.

Brazil's controversial former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who founded the country's ruling Workers' Party, is to lead a rally on Thursday against the impeachment of his successor President Dilma Rousseff and called for supporters to hit the streets on his Facebook page.

Pro-government organisations and the leftist Workers' Party arranged protests in 31 cities across the country. Brazilians have been demanding the president’s impeachment and protesting the corruption scandal.

Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment over allegedly illegal budgetary manipulations to cover the extent of Brazil's recession during her re-election campaign in 2014 and has been struggling to hold on to power amid the worst recession in decades.

Rousseff is dealing with the deepest recession in a generation and fallout from a huge corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras that has snared a cross-section of the country's elite - including Lula.

On Wednesday, Rousseff branded the attempt to bring her down as being based on trumped-up charges and amounting to "a coup."

She has been left dangerously isolated after the main coalition partner for her Workers' Party, the PMDB, announced Tuesday that it was pulling out and would support impeachment.

To impeach Rousseff, 342 out of 513 deputies, or two thirds, must vote in favour. If Rousseff managed to get more than 171 votes she would defeat the measure, but it could also fail through abstentions or deputies not attending.

Until only recently Rousseff seemed likely to narrowly prevail, despite her unpopularity and the intense hostility of opponents in the increasingly divided country.

Rousseff loyalists held rallies with some 270,000 people, according to police estimates, on March 19. The opposition, meanwhile, staged much larger rallies on March 13.