World / Latin America

Rousseff gets relief from Supreme Court, supporters

By Agencies in Brasilia, Brazil (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-02 07:59

Rousseff gets relief from Supreme Court, supporters

Worker's Party supporters demonstrate in support of President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Curitiba, Brazil, on Thursday. Heuler Andrey / AFP

Brazil's Supreme Court ruled on Thursday to take a corruption investigation of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva away from a crusading federal judge, as pro-government protests across the country eased pressure on President Dilma Rousseff.

Local television showed tens of thousands of supporters clad in red marching for Rousseff, who has faced growing calls for her impeachment since anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro released a wiretapped conversation of her and Lula last month.

Thursday's 8-2 Supreme Court decision grants Lula and Rousseff a breather from Moro by putting Lula's case temporarily in the hands of the top court, all but 3 of whose members have been named since the ruling Workers' Party took office in 2003.

Lula, Rousseff's predecessor and mentor, is under investigation for allegedly benefiting, in the form of payments and a luxury apartment, from a massive graft scheme uncovered at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Rousseff is fighting impeachment over unrelated charges of irregularities in the government budget designed to favor her re-election in 2014. She could lose power as soon as May if she does not gain more support in Congress.

The scandal, Rousseff's Congressional weakness and a deepening economic recession have led to Brazil's worst political crisis since former president Fernando Collor de Mello resigned to avoid impeachment in 1992.

Up to 3 million people joined a protest in favor of her ouster on March 13, the largest one in decades.

On Thursday, Rousseff held a rally with artists who support her and said opponents trying to impeach her were merely trying to "give a democratic tint to a coup".

Some success

Aides said her government had some success in drawing lawmakers from smaller political parties into her government's alliance, which was shattered by the departure last month of Brazil's largest political party the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB.

In a sign of a potential split among the PMDB, Senate leader Renan Calheiros said his party's decision to leave the government was "foolish" and "premature".

"This PMDB meeting was rushed. It is obvious that it caused stark reactions on all sides. ... This means it was an unwise move," Calheiros said.

Reuters - Xinhua

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