Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was suspended Thursday to face impeachment, ceding power to her vice-president-turned-enemy Michel Temer in a political earthquake ending 13 years of leftist rule over Latin America’s biggest nation.
A nearly 22-hour debate in the Senate closed with an overwhelming 55-22 vote against Brazil’s first female president. Pro-impeachment senators broke into applause and posed for selfies and congratulatory group photos in the blue-carpeted, circular chamber.
Only a simple majority of the 81-member Senate had been required to suspend Rousseff for six months pending judgement on charges that she broke budget accounting laws.
A trial could now take months, with a two-thirds majority vote eventually needed to force Rousseff, 68, from office altogether. Within hours, Temer, from the center-right PMDB party, was to take over as interim president, drawing the curtain on more than a decade of dominance by Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party.
He was preparing to announce a new government shortly and said his priority is to address Brazil’s worst recession in decades and end the paralysis gripping Congress during the battle over Rousseff. A onetime Marxist guerrilla tortured under the country’s military dictatorship in the 1970s, Rousseff has denounced the impeachment drive as a coup and vowed to fight on during her trial.
She was expected to be officially notified of the vote’s result at 10:00 am (1300 GMT) Thursday and was planning to address the nation around the same time. A crowd of supporters was gathering outside the presidential palace to salute her as she drove off, a spokesman for the Workers’ Party told AFP.