Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has taken her battle to survive impeachment to the Supreme Court in a last-ditch attempt to stay in office a day before the Senate is expected to vote to try her for breaking budget laws.
Brazil’s Attorney General Eduardo Cardozo, the government’s top lawyer, asked the Supreme Court to annul impeachment proceedings on Tuesday, his office said.
Cardozo’s move comes before a vote that could see Rousseff suspended from office for up to six months to stand trial and, eventually, removed from office.
Rousseff’s opponents have more than the 41 votes needed to launch her trial in the upper chamber of the Congress, and they are confident that they can muster two-thirds of the 81 senators, or 54, to unseat the president.
As the prospect grew of Rousseff’s removal and a potential end to 13 years of rule by her leftist Workers’ Party, anti-impeachment protesters blocked roads and burned tyres in the capital Sao Paulo and other cities on Tuesday. Morning traffic was disrupted as protesters clashed with police.
Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo, reporting from Sao Paolo, said everything was ready in Brazil for the Senate session which will determine Rousseff’s future.
“Many here say the attorney general’s appeal to the Supreme Court to avoid the impeachment process is unlikely to change anything,” she said.
“Rousseff said on Tuesday that she was not tired of this fight, but of those who have been disloyal to her, adding that what was happening in Brazil was a coup, asking people to defend democracy.”
Earlier on the same day, Waldir Maranhao, the acting speaker of the lower house of Congress, withdrew his controversial decision to annul last month’s impeachment vote in the chamber.
Maranhao, a little-known politician before he took over last week after the removal of Eduardo Cunha for obstruction of a corruption investigation, faces expulsion from his centre-right Progressive Party, which supports Rousseff’s impeachment.
Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told Al Jazeera that the Rousseff case exposed the flaws in Brazil’s judiciary system.
“Sixty percent of the Congress is under some kind of scrutiny or investigation, and when I think of all the major parties, the Workers’ Party, Dilma Rousseff’s party, is probably the least corrupt, although they had several corruption scandals within the Workers’ Party too,” he said. “The whole system needs reform.”
The Workers’ Party and labour unions called for a national strike to resist what they call a “coup” against democracy.
The impeachment process comes as Brazil is mired in its worst recession since the 1930s and shaken by the country’s biggest ever corruption scandal, which together have paralysed Rousseff’s second-term administration.
Rousseff has steadfastly denied committing any impeachable crime and has vowed to fight impeachment by all means legally possible. She has dismissed calls for her resignation.