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Ousted! Brazilian senate votes to remove president Rousseff for breaking fiscal laws

Published:Wednesday | August 31, 2016 | 8:41 PM
Rousseff ... Brazil's first female president, was accused of breaking fiscal laws in her management of the federal budget.

AP -
Brazil's Senate has voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, after a yearlong fight that paralysed Latin America's largest nation and exposed deep rifts among its people on everything from race relations to social spending.

Rousseff was Brazil's first female president, was accused of breaking fiscal laws in her management of the federal budget.

"The Senate has found that the president of the federal republic of Brazil, Dilma Vana Rousseff, committed crimes in breaking fiscal laws," said Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, who presided over the trial.

Opposition lawmakers, who made it clear from very early that the only solution was getting her out of office, argued that the manoeuvres masked yawning deficits from high spending and ultimately exacerbated the recession in a nation that had long enjoyed darling status among emerging economies.

Nonsense, Rousseff countered time and again, proclaiming her innocence up to the end.

Previous presidents used similar accounting techniques, she noted, saying the push to remove her was a bloodless coup d'état by elites fuming over the populist polices of her Workers' Party the past 13 years.

The opposition needed 54 of the 81 senators to vote in favour for Rousseff to be removed.

They got many more, winning in a landslide of sorts, 61-20.

"Today is the day that 61 men, many of them charged and corrupt, threw 54 million Brazilian votes in the garbage," Rousseff tweeted minutes after the decision.

Rousseff won re-election in 2014, garnering more than 54 million votes.

In a second vote about 30 minutes later, Rousseff won a minor victory as a measure to ban her from public office for eight years failed.

The 42-36 vote fell short of the 54 votes needed for passage.