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Brazil impeachment drive against Rousseff hits roadblock


President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil.

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil.

The impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was thrown into confusion Monday when the speaker of the lower house of Congress annulled an April vote by lawmakers to launch the process.

Waldir Maranhao, the interim speaker of the lower house, wrote in an order seen by AFP that a new vote should take place on whether to impeach Rousseff.

The surprise move came just as the Senate was preparing to vote this week on whether to suspend Rousseff from office while an impeachment trial gets underway.

Maranhao’s order said that legislators should hold a new vote in five sessions time.

However it was not immediately clear how the chaotic new developments would unfold.

The Senate was due to start its own voting process on Wednesday, with a majority expected to vote for Rousseff to be suspended. It was not clear whether Maranhao’s order would stand or would be challenged, possibly in the Supreme Court.

In her first reaction, Rousseff interrupted a speech to supporters to say that she’d just got unconfirmed news of her impeachment hitting a roadblock.

“I don’t know the consequences. Please be cautious,” she said, calling on her backers to “defend democracy.”

The lower house voted in mid-April by an overwhelming majority to send Rousseff’s case to the Senate for trial. She is accused of illegally manipulating government budget accounts during her 2014 reelection battle but says that the process has been twisted into a coup d’etat.

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