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article imageSteps in Brazil impeachment drive

By AFP     Mar 31, 2016 in Politics

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff risks being driven from office if a congressional commission decides next week to launch an impeachment trial against her.

Here is an explanation of the steps in the impeachment crisis, which comes on top of a deep recession in Latin America's biggest economy as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in August.

Run-up

Calls to impeach Rousseff first broke out last year after she was accused of fiddling government accounts. On March 17 this year lawmakers formally launched an impeachment commission after procedural obstacles were resolved.

Launch

On April 4 Rousseff's side wraps up its defense before the commission. That body is expected to make a recommendation by mid-April on whether to launch impeachment proceedings. If it does call for such a move, the motion passes to the lower house of congress for a vote. Rousseff's rivals hope that will happen by April 15.

Trial

If fewer than two thirds of the lower house approve the motion, Rousseff escapes impeachment. If two thirds approve it, the case passes to the Senate.

If a simple majority of Senators vote to impeach her, Rousseff will be ordered out of office provisionally for up to six months while an impeachment trial is held in the Senate. She would be replaced provisionally by her vice-president Michel Temer.

Judgment

After the closing arguments for and against Rousseff in the final session of the impeachment trial, senators will vote on whether to remove Rousseff from office for good. If two thirds vote to impeach her, she will be out. If not, she can return to office.

Analysts say the case may take just a few weeks to reach the Senate, but once there the proceedings could take months.

Road bumps

If the Senate launches an impeachment trial, it could be under way as Brazil hosts the Olympic Games in Rio from August 5 to 21.

The political crisis engulfing Rousseff and her allies such as predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has sparked angry street protests which threaten to heat up tensions over the coming months.

Lula himself is awaiting rulings on whether he can join Rousseff's cabinet and whether he will face trial on separate corruption charges.

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