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Brazil's Rousseff suspended, faces impeachment trial



Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vowed on Thursday she would fight to prove her innocence after the Senate voted to put her on trial for breaking budget laws, a historic decision fuelled by deep recession and a sprawling corruption scandal.

Rousseff, a leftist in office since 2011, was replaced by her vice president, centrist Michel Temer, who took over as interim president for the duration of a Senate trial that could take up to six months.

Speaking shortly before she left Brasilia's Planalto presidential palace, Rousseff told supporters she was notified of her suspension on Thursday morning.

She reiterated what she has maintained since impeachment proceedings were launched against her last December by the lower house of Congress.

"I may have made mistakes but I did not commit any crime," Rousseff said in an angry address, calling the impeachment"fraudulent" and"a coup." Rousseff, 68, was flanked by dozens of ministers who were leaving with her administration. Even as many of them wept, Rousseff remained stolid.

"I never imagined that it would be necessary to fight once again against a coup in this country," Rousseff said, in a reference to her youth fighting Brazil's military dictatorship.

Shortly afterwards, she addressed hundreds of supporters outside, many of them dressed in the red of her Workers Party, and already shouting"Temer out!""This is a tragic hour for our country," Rousseff said, calling her suspension an effort by conservatives to roll back the social and economic gains made by the Workers Party during its 13 years in power.

The party rose from Brazil's labour movement and helped pull millions of people out of poverty before running into recession and scandal, with many of its leaders tainted by corruption investigations. The Senate deliberated for 20 hours before voting 55-22 early on Thursday to put Rousseff on trial over charges that she disguised the size of the budget deficit to make the economy look healthier in the runup to her 2014 re-election.Rousseff, an economist and former member of a Marxist guerrilla group who became Brazil's first woman president, has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and has called the charges politically motivated. Despite her vows to fight, she is unlikely to be acquitted in her trial.

The size of the vote to try her showed the opposition already has the support it will need to reach the two-thirds majority required to convict Rousseff and remove her definitively from office.

"It is a bitter though necessary medicine," opposition Senator Jose Serra, named on Thursday as the new foreign minister under Temer, said during the marathon Senate debate."Having the Rousseff government continue would be a bigger tragedy."


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