Brazilian lawmakers have voted to back the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. The embattled leader failed to get the 172 votes she needed to block the move.
It is now up to the Senate to decide whether there are legal grounds to hear the case against her, a decision is expected early May.
Opposition lawmakers voted 367 to 137 in favour of sending the matter to the Senate. It is there, over the next few weeks, that the upper house will decide if Rousseff has a case to answer.
She’s been accused of allegedly manipulating government accounts ahead of her re-election in October 2014.
“The voting took five hours to complete and as each vote for and against was cast, there were impassioned arguments and even insults hurled. One MP accused the speaker of the lower house and Rousseff’s arch enemy, Eduardo Cunha, of being supported by the devil and of being a gangster,” said Glauber Braga, lawmaker of the PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party).
Wladimir Costa of the opposing SD party (Social Democracy Party)said that those who backed the impeachment were clearly confident of winning and ready to celebrate.
As the vote took place, thousands of pro and anti-impeachment protesters demonstrated outside Congress and in numerous cities across the country.
Lawyer Wilson Ribeiro said “there will be big changes. To get the impeachment process approved, the vice president Michel Temer had to bargain a lot with the other political parties. So we will have a new majority and a big number of ministries will be cut, maybe about half.”
Rousseff said she is confident the Senate will dismiss her impeachment. She continues to deny any wrongdoing, describing the process as tantamount to a coup.