Brazil senators inch toward Rousseff impeachment vote
Brazilian senators engaged in a marathon debate on the eve of voting on whether to strip Dilma Rousseff of the presidency and end 13 years of leftist rule in the country. Lawyers on both sides of the impeachment trial, dividing Brazil, made impassioned closing arguments, followed by final speeches from senators.
The vote on Rousseff's fate, originally set for Tuesday, was put off to Wednesday. Brazil's first woman president, 68, is accused of taking illegal state loans to patch budget holes in 2014, masking the country's problems as it slid into its deepest recession in decades.
Latest estimates from independent analysts and pro-impeachment senators are that the upper chamber will easily reach the two-thirds majority – 54 of 81 senators –to convict Rousseff. Loyalists say they haven't yet lost hope of saving the Workers' Party president.
"The chances of impeachment not passing and the president being made to step down are virtually nil," said political analyst Adriano Codato.
If Rousseff is forced from office, her former vice-president-turned-bitter foe Michel Temer will be immediately sworn in as the President until the next scheduled elections in late 2018. Temer, 75, took over in an interim role after Rousseff's initial suspension in May and at once named a new government with an agenda shifting Brazil to the right.
Rousseff, in a 14-hour appearance on Monday, defiantly challenged senators to acquit her, branding impeachment as a "coup."