Brazil's Temer refuses to quit in corruption probe

Violence erupted after thousands of protesters took to the streets across the country and clashed with police. President Michel Temer is accused of authorising bribe payments to allegedly silence a jailed former party ally.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Demonstrators take part in a protest against Brazil's President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 18, 2017. The banner reads "Out Temer."

Thousands of people have taken to the streets across Brazil, demanding the resignation of President Michel Temer.

Violence erupted late on Thursday after protesters clashed with police. The president has been accused of authorising bribe payments to allegedly silence a jailed former party ally.

President Temer has rejected those allegations, and is so far refusing to stand down. "I will not resign. I repeat: I will not resign," he announced angrily, wagging his finger, in a brief televised statement to the nation.

Several thousand people demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, shouting "Temer out!" while about 2,000 held a similar rally in the capital Brasilia. Both protests ended in minor clashes with riot police.

Around 24 hours after a report in O Globo newspaper revealed that Temer had been caught on tape allegedly agreeing to bribe former speaker of the lower house Eduardo Cunha, he already faced eight formal requests for his impeachment.

There were also signs that his ruling center-right coalition was in danger, with some allies calling for his resignation. The culture minister, Roberto Freire, resigned and there were indications that the urban affairs minister would follow.

The Supreme Court piled on the pressure by greenlighting a formal investigation into Temer.

Despite all the calls for his head, the veteran center-right politician -- who took over last year after the impeachment of leftist president Dilma Rousseff -- came out swinging.

Temer highlighted signs this week that Brazil's two-year recession is coming to an end and claimed that "optimism was returning" thanks to a program of austerity reforms that he is trying to pass in Congress.

Now "those efforts may come to nothing," he warned, calling for a "full and very rapid" investigation at the Supreme Court.


TRTWorld and agencies