Rousseff accuses Brazil opposition of 'coup-mongering'

SAO PAULO: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Tuesday her opponents are trying to overthrow a democratically elected government by seeking to oust her without any material facts while spreading hatred and intolerance across Latin America's largest country.

Speaking to a gathering of union leaders late on Tuesday, Rousseff said the political opposition is practicing "deliberate coup-mongering" against a "project that has successfully lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty."

Her remarks are the harshest since federal audit court TCU ruled last week that her administration manipulated accounting to disguise a swelling deficit as she campaigned for re-election last year and Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha began to analyze several requests to impeach her. While the TCU ruling is not legally binding, opposition lawmakers are using it to call for impeachment proceedings.

"The artificiality of their arguments is absolute, their poisoning of people in social networks, their relentless game of 'the worse she does, the better for us,'" Rousseff said, prompting cheers and applause.

Opposition parties wanted to force a vote in the house that could have opened impeachment proceedings this week, but a Federal Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday suspended the maneuver. Cunha is analyzing three impeachment requests, including one by lawyer Helio Bicudo, a former Rousseff ally who alleges she doctored government accounts to prop up her re-election chances.

Rousseff urged Brazilians to stand by her and her government, saying that she is not the target of any ongoing investigation.

Some of Rousseff's aides as well as members of her ruling coalition are under investigation for a graft scheme at several state firms, a scandal known as "Operation Car Wash."

Rousseff said that any eventual breach of Brazil's fiscal responsibility law, as the court ruled, was the result of her government's efforts to maintain social programs for the poor in the light of a deteriorating economy.

Her political mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, admitted on Tuesday that the accounting tricks happened to help pay for stipend programs that for years have alleviated poverty in Brazil, a country of 200 million.

The TCU in its ruling cited the government's failure to repay state bank loans as the main reason behind the accounting tricks. The strategy had a negligible impact on the way social programs were funded, the ruling showed.