Friday, March 18, 2016 11:00 am
Supporters of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will stage mass street rallies Friday in her defence, counter-attacking in a political crisis that threatens to drive her from office.
They called rallies for Friday in more than 30 cities — a chance for a show of strength after three million people joined in anti-government demonstrations last weekend.
The rival protests followed a day of political drama as lawmakers on Thursday relaunched impeachment proceedings against Rousseff, 68.
The courts, meanwhile, blocked her bid to bring her powerful predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva into the cabinet.
Rousseff and her allies are fighting off corruption allegations and struggling with discontent over a deep recession.
The setbacks for the leftist leader came a day after new evidence in a corruption scandal: a wiretapped telephone call that pointed to connivance between Rousseff and her predecessor and mentor Lula.
Rousseff swore in Lula, 70, as her new chief of staff on Thursday.
A judge in Brasilia issued a ruling suspending that appointment over allegations that she was trying to protect him from corruption charges by giving him ministerial immunity.
That ruling was overturned late Thursday on appeal, but a separate federal court in Rio de Janeiro upheld another lawsuit blocking Lula’s appointment.
Rousseff accused her enemies of mounting a “coup” against her.
– Counter-demos –
Thursday’s events plunged Rousseff’s government into deeper uncertainty as she struggles with public anger, economic chaos and the splintering of her coalition in congress.
Lula and Rousseff have between them governed Brazil for the past 13 years. He presided over a boom, but political and economic crises are now gripping Latin America’s biggest economy.
Anti-government protests erupted Wednesday when an anti-corruption judge leaked a wire-tapped phone call between Rousseff and Lula that suggested she appointed him to the new post to save him from arrest.
Organizers said in a statement the demonstrations aimed to fend off a “coup” and to defend Rousseff’s social policies. The CUT in Sao Paulo vowed the rallies would be peaceful.
Brazil grabbed world headlines in 2013 when it was gripped by mass riots against corruption and increased transport costs.
Rousseff was scheduled to attend a ceremony in northeastern Brazil to unveil a new social housing project on Friday morning.