18 Apr 2016

Brazil's lower house backs impeachment

2:41 pm on 18 April 2016

Brazil's lower house has voted to back the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff for breaking budget laws.

Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Photo: AFP

Mrs Rousseff's opponents in the Congress have reached the 342-vote (two-thirds) mark needed to trigger a formal trial in the Senate, a major step towards potentially ending 13 years of Workers' Party rule.

The voting took place as thousands of pro- and anti-impeachment protesters demonstrated outside Congress.

Brazil's presidential chief of staff Jaques Wagner said the government was confident the Senate would dismiss the impeachment.

The vote on Sunday night (Monday afternoon NZT) was a setback for Brazilian democracy and was "orchestrated" by her opponents who never accepted her re-election victory in 2014, Mr Wagner said in a statement.

If the Senate decides there are legal grounds to hear the case against Mrs Rousseff - a decision expected in early May - she would be suspended from office and the Vice-President, Michel Temer, would take over.

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