Brazil commission likely to back impeachment, protests loom
By Maria Carolina Marcello
BRASILIA, April 11 (Reuters) - A congressional impeachment committee is expected to vote on Monday in favor of sending President Dilma Rousseff to trial for breaking Brazil's budget laws, presidential aides said, in the first major step toward her possible removal from office.
Supporters and opponents of the embattled left-leaning president gathered in the Brazilian capital ahead of the impeachment decision, which is due to be put to the vote in the full lower house of Congress on Sunday.
Bracing for clashes, police erected a 1-km (0.6 mile) long metal fence down the middle of the wide grass esplanade in front of Congress to separate rival demonstrators.
The battle over Rousseff's impeachment has polarized the nation of 200 million people and brought the government of Latin America`s largest economy to a virtual standstill.
Presidential aides said that a majority of the 65-member committee was expected to recommend that Rousseff, Brazil's first female president, be impeached on charges of manipulating budget accounts to boost her reelection prospects in 2014.
The government is focused on convincing lawmakers to vote against impeachment or abstain in the full house vote on Sunday by offering government jobs that became vacant when Rousseff's main ally, the PMDB, broke with her two weeks ago.
If Rousseff's opponents are successful, it would be the first impeachment of a Brazilian president since 1992 when a politically isolated Fernando Collor de Mello faced massive protests for his ouster on corruption charges and resigned on the eve of his conviction by the Senate.
"There are sufficient indications to proceed with impeachment," Congressman Jovair Arantes, the committee's rapporteur said at the opening session on Monday. Arantes said in his official report on Friday that there were constitutional grounds to impeach Rousseff. Continuación...