Brazil president suggests referendum after impeachment trial

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Sao Paulo, Jun 11: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is suggesting she would hold a national referendum on her presidency if she survives an impeachment trial expected for August.

Rousseff said in an interview aired by state-run TV Brasil on Thursday night that Brazilians should be consulted on the future, even if the Senate does not permanently remove her from office. Such a referendum could lead to a new presidential election.

Dilma Rousseff

Rousseff was impeached and suspended on May 12. She is accused of using illegal accounting techniques hide large federal budget deficits. She has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

"Given the level of contradiction among different political actors in this country, it is necessary to appeal to the population," the suspended president said. "I think it can be some sort of plebiscite. I won't give a full menu here, but this is something under intense discussion."

Lawmakers who support neither Rousseff nor acting President Michel Temer have called for new elections to resolve the nation's political crisis. For that to happen, both would have to resign or be removed from office before the end of the year. Otherwise, by law, Congress would choose a new president to serve out the second half of Rousseff's four-year term that ends in 2018.

"Only a popular consultation can wash away and rinse this mess that the Temer administration is," Rousseff said. Allies of the interim president have rejected calls for new elections. Rousseff's suggestion comes as an increasing number of senators say they have not decided how they will vote in the trial.

After just a month in charge, Temer has become as unpopular as Rousseff. He has been dogged by a series of damaging leaked audio recordings, the abrupt exit of two ministers due to corruption probes, allegations of graft involving other interim officials and criticism after he appointed a Cabinet of all white men.

Even before Temer took office, 58 percent of the population wanted his impeachment, according to a Datafolha poll in April. At that time 61 percent wanted Rousseff out too. Anti-impeachment protests occurred in at least 18 states and Brazil's capital Brasilia yesterday, with thousands taking to the streets. In Sao Paulo demonstrators blocked the city's main road, Avenida Paulista. 

AP

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