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Rousseff faces impeachment

Temas:

Friends and foes of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called each other "putchists" and "thieves" ahead of Sunday's vote in Congress' lower house on whether to proceed with her impeachment, as unprecedented levels of vitriol sparked fears of violence.

Emotions have been running high since the impeachment proceedings began in the Chamber of Deputies on Friday, with lawmakers holding raucous, name-calling session. Outside the legislature, waves of pro- and anti-impeachment demonstrators were expected to flood the capital of Brasilia on Sunday. A metal wall was installed to keep the rival sides safely apart.

If 342 of the lower house's 513 lawmakers vote in favor of the impeachment on Sunday, the proceedings move to the Senate, where a separate vote could suspend Rousseff and hand over the top job to Vice President Michel Temer, who Rousseff has blasted in recent days as being part of the push against her.

If lawmakers vote against impeachment, this bid to oust Rousseff would be dead and any subsequent process would have to start over.

Newspapers have been updating their tallies on an almost hourly basis. With the result appearing to hang on the votes of a couple dozen undecided lawmakers, it was too close to call.

Brazil's president is facing impeachment over allegations she broke fiscal laws. Her detractors describe the sleight-of hand accounting as a bid to boost her government's floundering popularity amid a tanking economy and a corruption scandal so widespread it has taken down top public figures from across the political spectrum, as well as some of the country's richest businessmen.

Rousseff denies wrongdoing, pointing out that prior presidents have used similar accounting techniques. The allegations, she insists, are part of a "coup" spearheaded by Brazil's traditional ruling elite to snatch power back from her left-leaning Workers' Party, which has governed the nation for the past 13 years.

The key vote comes as Latin America's largest nation is dealing with problems on many fronts. The economy is contracting, inflation is around 10 percent and an outbreak of the Zika virus, which can cause devastating birth defects, has ravaged parts of northeastern states. Rio de Janeiro is gearing up to host the Olympics in August, but sharp budget cuts have fueled worries about whether the country will be ready to host.

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