Brazil's embattled President Dilma Rousseff asks Supreme Court to suspend impeachment vote, gets rejected
Brazil's embattled President Dilma Rousseff asked the country's Supreme Court on Thursday to suspend an upcoming impeachment vote in Congress as the number of government dissenters pledging to vote against the president is growing quickly, however, the top court denied her request.
Rousseff's attorney general, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, asked the top court for an injunction to suspend Sunday's lower house vote until the full court can rule on what he called procedural flaws in the impeachment process.
The Supreme Court has called an extraordinary meeting for 5:30 pm (2030 GMT) to discuss a complaint by a party allied to Rousseff over the impeachment procedure.
Later on Thursday, however, a majority of the justices rejected the injunction sought by the Communist Party of Brazil, a Rousseff coalition ally, to overturn the voting order decided by lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, which favors impeachment by having states where anti-Rousseff sentiment predominates vote first. The court must still rule on a request by Rousseff's government to suspend Sunday's vote.
Rousseff, an unpopular leader already struggling with Brazil's worst economic crisis in decades and a historic corruption scandal, has lost support within her governing coalition. She faces the growing likelihood of defeat in the lower house vote, which would send her impeachment to the Senate for trial on charges of breaking budget laws.
If the Senate accepts her impeachment, Rousseff would be suspended and replaced by Vice President Michel Temer as soon as early May pending a trial that could last six months.
Rousseff's move was seen as a last resort and may indicate she has lost confidence that she will survive the Congress vote.
Rousseff's opponents are just nine votes short of victory in the lower house, with 333 lawmakers backing impeachment, 124 opposed and 56 undecided or declining to respond, according to a survey by the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.
Dozens of politicians from several political parties are under investigation for their alleged involvement in a kickback scheme at the state-run oil firm. Vice President Temer and lower house speaker Cunha are among those under watch. Cunha is the next in line to assume the presidency after Temer.
Temer, who would serve out Rousseff's term until 2018 if she is ousted by the Senate, has little popular support. He would face a daunting task restoring confidence in a country where dozens of political leaders, including close associates of his, are under investigation for corruption.
Rousseff is not a being investigated in the massive graft scandal surrounding state-run oil company Petrobras that has reached into her inner circle. She denies she broke budget laws and defines opposition's attempt to take her down as a "coup attempt," but opponents allege that accounting tricks helped her win re-election in 2014 by boosting public spending.