Brazil's Rousseff scrambles for votes to avert impeachment
By Marcela Ayres
BRASILIA, April 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff hunkered down at her residence on Saturday for last-minute negotiations with wavering lawmakers in an effort to secure crucial support the day before an impeachment vote that could lead to her removal from office.
Rousseff canceled an appearance at an anti-impeachment rally of union and leftist social activists led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, her predecessor and the Workers' Party leader.
Instead she met with lawmakers behind closed doors in a bid to obtain their vote or abstention on Sunday when the lower house of Congress votes on whether she should be impeached for breaking the country's budget laws.
The talks indicated that Sunday's ballot may be tighter than expected as Rousseff seeks to swing the estimated two dozen additional votes she needs to prevent a two-thirds majority in favor of impeachment in the 513-seat lower chamber, which her opponents need to push ahead with this process.
In a rowdy session of speeches that went through the night, opposition congressmen shouted: "Out with the Workers' Party!" Rousseff's supporters, meanwhile, called for the ouster of House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, her political archenemy who has sped up the impeachment process.
Rousseff is fighting to survive a political firestorm fueled by Brazil's worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s and a spiraling corruption scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras that has reached her inner circle.
The president's opponents want her dismissed from office on charges that she manipulated budget accounts to boost public spending to boost her 2014 re-election. They also blame her for running Latin America's largest economy into the ground.
In a video and a newspaper column, Rousseff - Brazil's first female president - strongly denied she had committed an impeachable crime and called the bid to oust her "the biggest legal and political fraud" in the country's history. Continuación...