BRASILIA, July 17 (Reuters) - The speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, will announce his break with the government of President Dilma Rousseff on Friday, according to Brazilian media.
Cunha told Reuters he will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. (1400 GMT). It follows his statement on Thursday that he is weighing legal arguments to impeach Rousseff.
In reporting the impending political announcement, newspapers Folha de S.Paulo and O Estado de S.Paulo and magazines Epoca and Veja said Cunha accuses the Rousseff administration and prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot of conspiring together to incriminate him in the burgeoning corruption scandal at state-run Petrobras.
A defendant under a plea bargain deal accused Cunha of taking $5 million in bribes, according to judicial documents. He denies wrongdoing.
“There is no turning back. From today, my relations with the government are over,” Cunha told Epoca magazine. “If Dilma (Rousseff) and the government want me as an enemy, they will have it. There will be no truce. I will not be intimidated.”
A split by Cunha from Rousseff would not necessarily mean an immediate departure of his PMDB party from the president’s coalition. But Cunha, as speaker of the house, is responsible in Congress for conducting a possible impeachment of Rousseff.
Cunha’s opposition could pose a major obstacle to any legislation proposed by Rousseff, complicating her efforts to shore up public finances and avert a credit ratings downgrade. Reports of Cunha’s decision to break with Rousseff comes just as ratings agency Moody’s visits Brazil to weigh on a possible downgrade.
Cunha’s relations with Rousseff’s government have never been friendly, even before he became the House speaker, but he often cooperated in key legislation and had opposed an impeachment process despite the president’s record-low popularity.
Cunha, an evangelical Christian from Rio de Janeiro, is considered by PMDB allies as a possible presidential candidate in 2018. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione and Guillermo Parra-Bernal Editing by W Simon)