UPDATE 3-Brazil's Rousseff scrambles for votes to avert impeachment

sábado 16 de abril de 2016 16:37 GYT

(Adds demonstrators trying to block Lula's motorcade)

By Marcela Ayres and Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA, April 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff held last-minute negotiations with wavering lawmakers on Saturday in an effort to secure crucial support the day before an impeachment vote that could lead to her removal from office.

The political crisis has divided the country and turned into a bitter clash between the leftist leader and her centrist Vice President Michel Temer, who would take over if she is unseated.

Rousseff canceled an appearance at an anti-impeachment rally of union and left-wing social activists led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, her predecessor and founder of the ruling Workers' Party.

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.

A Temer aide said that Rousseff, with the help of Lula, who is still Brazil's most influential politician despite a graft probe, had managed to reverse a "handful" of votes but not alter the growing momentum for impeachment.

In a rowdy marathon 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.   Continuación...