Rallies in Brazil call for Dilma Rousseff's removal

Thousands demonstrate in major cities seeking the president's impeachment over corruption scandal and economic crisis.

    Tens of thousands of Brazilians have taken to the streets for a day of nationwide protests against President Dilma Rousseff.

    Sunday's demonstrations in major cities including Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro sounded the call for Rousseff's impeachment as the country's parliament remained divided on the issue.

    The demonstrations were peaceful, with thousands clad in the national yellow-and-green colours and holding banners that read "Dilma out" and "Stop with corruption".

    In the capital Brasilia, protesters inflated a huge doll of Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, Rousseff's political mentor and predecessor, wearing a striped prison uniform and chained to a ball that read "Operation Carwash" - the name of the investigation centred on Petrobras, the state oil company.

    Police estimated there were about 50,000 protesters in Brasilia alone.


    On the outskirts of Sao Paulo city, a few hundred government supporters wearing red shirts and holding banners that read "There will not be a coup" stood outside the home of Lula.

    "I support her impeachment and new elections because the presidential vote in 2014 was financed with dirty money from corruption," said Alexandre Cortes, a 39-year-old engineer draped in a Brazilian flag in a festive rally in Sao Paulo, the country's biggest city and financial capital.

    Rousseff has called for calm as her government fears clashes between pro and anti-government protesters.

    She is blamed by many in Brazil for plunging the economy into its worst recession in at least 25 years.

    The Federal Accounts Court said in October that her government's accounting practices in 2014, including taking what amounted to unauthorised loans from state-owned banks to make up for budget shortfalls, broke the law.

    Thousands of protesters gathered at the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro [EPA]

    Another judicial body, the electoral court, or TSE, has ruled in favour of investigating alleged illegalities in Rousseff's 2014 re-election campaign.

    Especially worryingly for Rousseff was that one of the allegations in the complaint brought to the TSE by the opposition PSDB party was that some donations to her re-election coffers were linked in part to the Petrobras corruption scandal.

    Rousseff chaired Petrobras during the main period of the kickbacks-and-bribery scandal that cost the company more than $2bn in 2014.

    Rousseff, whose popularity is near record lows, has said she will not quit and blamed her opponents for creating the ongoing crisis.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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