Fri | Aug 18, 2017

If returned to office, Brazil's Rousseff favours new election

Published:Wednesday | June 15, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff speaks during a press conference for foreign journalists at the Planalto residential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Rousseff blasted the impeachment process against her as "fraudulent" and promised to fight what she characterized as an injustice more painful than the torture she endured under a past military dictatorship. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff.
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Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Tuesday she would favour new elections to help Latin America's largest nation emerge from a political crisis, if she is first returned to office.

In an interview with foreign news agencies, Rousseff said she must first survive an upcoming trial in which senators will decide whether to permanently remove her from office.

Rousseff said the country was experiencing a political "weariness" and that many citizens no longer believed in the process.

"This has to be overcome," she said, speaking from the presidential residence, where she is allowed to remain while suspended. "If there needs to be new elections, I would be in favour."

 

FISCAL TRICKS

 

Rousseff was impeached and suspended by the Senate last month for allegedly using fiscal tricks to hide yawning gaps in the federal budget. Rousseff has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, insisting that the proceedings were a "fraud" and a "coup."

She has argued that many lawmakers really wanted her out so as to water down a colossal investigation into billions of dollars in kickbacks at State oil company Petrobras. In the last two years, several top politicians and businessmen have been arrested and jailed in the investigation.

While Rousseff paid for it politically much of the graft happened while her Workers' Party was in office she repeatedly refused to do anything that might alter a process she said Brazil badly needed.

In the hour-long interview, Rousseff floated the idea of a plebiscite on her mandate, though she did not provide details on how it would work.

"I don't have any problem asking what the people want," said Rousseff. "In any case, the only way that a president's mandate should be interrupted is via a plebiscite."

Getting to new elections before 2018, the end of Rousseff's term, would be a tall order.

In order for that to happen, both Rousseff and interim President Michel Temer, Rousseff's vice-president before getting impeached, would have to resign or be removed from office.

Temer allies have rejected growing calls among some lawmakers for new elections. Still, a cascade of scandals hounding Temer's fledgling administration have led to several senators saying publicly that they are rethinking their vote. Some of the scandals have included leaked recordings of Temer allies strategising about how to tamp down the Petrobras investigation, adding to Rousseff's contention that ousting her was about that, not about sleight-of-hand accounting manoeuvres.

 

STRATEGISING WITH ACTIVISTS

 

Last month, the Senate voted 55-22 to remove Rousseff, one more vote than will be necessary during the trial to permanently remove her.

Rousseff said she spends her days strategising with activists and friendly lawmakers about how to change senators' minds. Rousseff also said she is working on a letter of intentions to be published sometime before the impeachment trial, offering a new platform should she be returned to office.

She also said she will attend the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro if she is invited. While Temer is very unlikely to do that, Olympic Committee officials could invite her, though it would be awkward to have two presidents on hand.

"If I am not invited, I will be watching from up a tree with binoculars," she joked.

Rousseff said she would not meet with visiting foreign leaders ahead of the August 5 opening ceremonies so as not to "create any embarrassment".