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Brazil's Dilma Rousseff defends record, calls impeachment trial a coup

'The future of Brazil is at stake,' she said, warning of dangers Michel Temer's interim government will pose if she is impeached. Photograph: (Getty)

WION Brasilia, Brazil Aug 29, 2016, 07.14 PM (IST)
Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff defended he record in the impeachment trial in the Senate on Monday saying the trial was a 'coup' and that she was innocent. 

Rousseff is accused of manipulating the government budget. She was suspended in May pending the impeachment trial which is now underway.

Brazil, under Rousseff, has been rife with corruption revelations including the Petrobras scandal. 

Private firms and politicians have been accused of stealing millions from the state oil giant Petrobras.

Her removal from the office will mark an end to the 13 years of the rule by the leftist Workers' Party. 

Rousseff insisted that she has been unjustly accused of the crimes she did not commit. 

“I did not commit the crimes for which I have been accused unjustly and arbitrarily,” she said. 

"I cannot help but taste the bitterness of injustice. But like I did in the past, I resist. Don't expect me to stay silent like a coward." 

Rousseff was welcomed by cheering supporters in the Senate as she arrived hours before the voting began. The voting is likely to last till Wednesday (August 30).

54 out of 81 senators would have to vote for her impeachment for her to be removed from the presidency.

Brazil has also been paralysed by an economic recession and a political standoff, as her opponents claim. They have widened the accusation that Rousseff mishandled the economy, hence contributing to Brazil's eventual slide into recession. 

'Vote for democracy'

Michel Temer, Brazil's vice-president, will be confirmed as president till the presidential elections in 2018 if Rousseff is impeached. 

"The future of Brazil is at stake," she said, warning of dangers Temer's interim government will pose.

She, however, thanked the Senators who stood by her side and supported her. 

A lot of supporters outside the Senate backed Rousseff for being the scapegoat of a right-wing coup that has accused her of fraudulent charges. 

"I am fighting to defend democracy and the dignity of the people. This has been a persecution against the Workers' Party, Dilma and the Brazilian people,"  one of about 100 protesters outside the Senate told AFP.

According to AFP, supporters are highly sympathetic towards Rousseff. Temer's popularity, however, is likely to be marred by his purported illegitimacy as an unelected president. 

(WION with inputs from AFP)
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