World Bulletin / News Desk
The speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress, announced Wednesday that he has authorized impeachment proceedings into Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Several requests for Rousseff's impeachment have been made, but Eduardo Cunha accepted one lodged on behalf of a coalition of opposition parties by two prominent lawyers, one of whom had founded but later left Rousseff's ruling Workers' Party.
Rousseff is accused of committing a "crime of responsibility" by authorizing "fiscal maneuvers", including so-called "backpedaling" whereby funds taken from public banks to cover budgetary shortfalls are not immediately repaid.
There are accusations, including from the country's top audit court, that the president authorized backpedaling to ensure social spending was maintained ahead of last year's presidential elections, and that the practice has continued into 2015.
But there is no agreement about whether the fiscal maneuvers constitute an impeachable offense.
The move came as Cunha battles personal accusations of criminal behavior. A parliamentary ethics committee is currently deliberating whether to open a motion on allegations of corruption that could lead to Cunha's removal as speaker.
As it falls to Cunha, as speaker, to decide whether or not to open impeachment proceedings against the president, a frosty political stalemate had set in.
Local media said Cunha made the decision to open Rousseff's impeachment proceedings after Workers' Party members of the ethics committee announced Wednesday that they intended to vote to continue investigations into whether Cunha broke parliamentary rules -- a vote that had been postponed until next Tuesday.
A special cross-party committee will now be set up to analyze the impeachment request before the president can officially respond. Only then will the lower house of Congress vote on whether to continue with the motion for formal impeachment proceedings -- with the approval of two-thirds of deputies required to proceed.
Rousseff is currently battling single-digit popularity due to a vast corruption scandal at state-run oil firm Petrobras and an economy in a prolonged recession.
The government is facing stiff opposition to austerity measures it is trying to force through Congress to induce an economic recovery.