A woman holds a sign reading “No coup” during a demo of supporters of the government of Brazilian Presidnet Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia on May 9, 2016. ©AFP
Scuffles have broken out between supporters and opponents of Brazilian President Dilma Roussef amid a row between the two houses of parliament over impeachment of the embattled leader.
Rallies turned violent outside the National Congress in the capital Brazilia after Senate leader Renan Calheiros rejected a motion by acting lower house speaker Waldir Maranhao to overturn a key vote on the president’s impeachment.
Separately, around 1,000 protesters gathered on Paulista Avenue outside the Sao Paulo Museum of Art in the center of the city to express their opposition to Rousseff’s impeachment.
The protesters carried banners and waved Brazilian national flag amidst the heavy presence of security forces.
“We are here against the coup, because that means going backwards in Brazil
,” said Mariana Alves, a marcher.
“Those who sponsor the coup want to destroy our social rights, our democratic rights, which we had to fish so much for after the dictatorship. That means going backwards and ignoring 54 million votes that President Dilma Rousseff got in the 2014 elections.”
Elsewhere in Sao Paulo, pro-impeachment protesters converged outside the Federation of Industries of the State of Sao Paulo (FIESP) headquarters, and called on Maranhao to relinquish power.
A man holds balloons depicting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva during a protest of opponents to the government in Brasilia on May 9, 2016. ©AFP
“We are fighting for our rights against the ‘mensalao,’ against ‘petrolao’ [two corruption scandals in Brazil], against Lula, against Dilma, against Cunha, against Maranhao. Save Brazil, Paulista revolution,” said Sebastiao Dantas, a protester.
In a surprise announcement on Monday, Maranhao said he had cancelled a majority vote by the lower house last month that backed Rousseff’s ouster and submitted the case to the Senate for a possible trial of the president.
On Tuesday, however, the lower house speaker reversed his decision to annul the impeachment vote.
The Senate is to decide Wednesday whether to accept Rousseff’s impeachment and put her on trial for allegedly breaching budget rules. A ‘Yes’ vote would lead to Roussef’s suspension.
The Senate president harshly criticized Maranhao’s action as “toying with democracy,” saying the vote would go ahead as scheduled.
Brazil has been the scene of a major political turmoil over the past months, with embattled Rousseff intensively fighting for her political survival.
Opposition congressmen aggressively seek her ouster, saying she illegally manipulated government budget accounts during her 2014 reelection battle.
Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing and keeps calling the charges and the impeachment motion as an attempted coup against her legitimate government.