Brazil’s Rousseff flies to US amid impeachment battle

BRASÍLIA, April 21, 2016 (AFP) – Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff flew to New York on Thursday to sign a global climate change pact, giving her an international stage to address efforts to oust her.

Rousseff’s trip comes just four days after the lower house of Congress sent impeachment proceedings to the Senate, which is expected to vote on opening a trial by mid-May.

Rousseff is going to the United Nations to sign the climate deal on Friday, but a government official told AFP that her speech would include “one sentence” about the political crisis back home.

The opposition has already warned the leftist leader against criticizing the impeachment process, which she has described as a “coup,” while she is abroad.

Senator Cassio Cunha Lima said it would amount to a “crime against the nation.”Rousseff decided to go to New York even though she had cancelled her attendance at the ceremony to light the Olympic flame in Greece on Thursday ahead of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Her trip means that Vice President Michel Temer, whom she accuses of conspiring to oust her, will be in charge of the country until her return, due late Friday or early Saturday.

Rousseff says charges that she used illegal accounting tricks to mask budget deficits have no legal basis.
If the Senate opens a trial next month, Rousseff would have to step aside for 180 days and Temer would take over in the meantime.

After that, a two-thirds majority vote would be enough to oust her permanently, leaving Temer to serve out her term, which ends in late 2018.