Brazil President Dilma Rousseff makes final plea to impeachment committee

Brasilia: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's top lawyer will present final arguments before an impeachment committee on Monday at the start of a crucial two weeks in the embattled leader's bid to stay in power.

Solicitor General Jose Eduardo Cardozo was due to face the cross-party committee for the last time before it votes on whether to recommend Rousseff face trial for allegedly illegal accounting practices.

The session was expected to start at around 1930 GMT.

The commission recommendation, scheduled for 11 April, is non-binding but will set the tone for a vote soon after in the lower house of Congress on Rousseff's fate.

A file photo of Dilma Rousseff. AP

A file photo of Dilma Rousseff. AP

Two thirds of the lower chamber, or 342 votes, are needed to send the case for trial in the Senate. The lower house vote is due to take place 17 April, Folha daily reported Sunday.

The schedule gives Rousseff — whose main coalition partner went over to the opposition last week -- just days to lobby for support and save her presidency.

Following intense behind-the-scenes dealing, she is soon expected to announce a series of ministerial posts and other government jobs given in reward for congressional support.

She could also find out this week if the Supreme Court agrees to let heavy-hitting but controversial ex-president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, join her cabinet.

Lula is crucial to rallying the leftist base and negotiating an anti-impeachment coalition, but has been barred because he is accused in a case connected to a huge embezzlement and bribery scandal at state oil company Petrobras.

"This week will be the week where both sides are playing all their cards pretty hard and making their moves," Gabriel Petrus, an analyst at the political consultancy Barral M Jorge Associates, told AFP.

"The following week we'll have the final result of this battle."

Rousseff is accused of illegally manipulating government accounts, a charge that many experts consider to be relatively light for impeachment.

However, the one-time Marxist guerrilla during Brazil's military dictatorship is also taking fire for a brutal recession and the Petrobras corruption scandal. With only 10 percent government approval ratings and inability to pass legislation in Congress, Rousseff already looks powerless.

But those working to oust Rousseff themselves face serious allegations.

Rousseff's vice-president-turned-opponent, Michel Temer, has been linked — though not charged — as a participant in the Petrobras scandal. If Rousseff goes, he'd become president.

Updated Date: Apr 04, 2016 11:58 AM

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