Brazil’s Rousseff ousted by senate, Michel Temer sworn in as president

Brasilia, September 1

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff was stripped of the country’s presidency in an impeachment vote yesterday and replaced by her bitter rival Michel Temer, shifting Latin America’s biggest economy sharply to the right.

Rousseff, 68, was convicted by 61 of the 81 senators of illegally manipulating the national budget. The vote, which exceeded the needed two-thirds majority, meant the veteran leftist leader was immediately removed from office.

Three hours later, Temer  her centre-right former vice president and one-time crucial coalition partner whom she now accuses of orchestrating a coup against her — was sworn in. Cheers — and cries of disappointment  erupted in the blue-carpeted, circular Senate chamber as the impeachment verdict flashed up on the voting screen.

Pro-impeachment senators sang the national anthem, some waving Brazilian flags, while leftist allies of Rousseff stood stony faced.

“I will not associate my name with this infamy,” read a sign held up by one senator. “Coup plotters!” others chanted. In a surprise twist, a separate vote to bar Rousseff from holding any public office for eight years failed to pass.

Speaking at the Alvorada presidential palace on the outskirts of the capital Brasilia, Rousseff, from the leftist Workers’ Party, condemned her forced exit. “They decided to interrupt the mandate of a president who had committed no crime. They have convicted an innocent person and carried out a parliamentary coup,” she said, defiantly vowing that she’d “be back.”

Temer, 75, marked his first day as president by flying late yesterday to China for a G20 summit. A recorded address to the nation was expected to be released later. A stalwart of the centre-right PMDB party, Temer has vowed to steer Brazil away from 13 years of Workers’ Party rule in hopes that a market-friendly track will resolve the country’s worst recession in decades.

Rousseff is accused of taking illegal state loans to patch budget holes in 2014, masking the country’s problems as it slid into today’s economic disarray.