By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Former Speaker of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, is expected to be impeached today by the country’s Lower House. Cunha is accused of receiving bribes related to Operação Lava-Jato (Operation Carwash) as well as lying to lawmakers about having foreign bank accounts.
“It is important that members are present and that each vote [according] to his conscience. The important thing is that everyone is here – this is an issue that has to end on Monday, so that the House can return its regular voting order,” Chamber Speaker, Rodrigo Maia told journalists last week when scheduling the vote.
Congressional sessions are usually not held Mondays and Fridays in Brazil, but according to Maia an exception was made because the process has been ‘dragged on’ long enough.
Local media has reported that Cunha plans to speak at Monday’s hearing, claiming that this impeachment process is retaliation for last month’s impeachment of now former President Dilma Rousseff.
Cunha is generally regarded as being responsible for pushing forward the process which eventually led to Rousseff’s impeachment. Due to political pressure, Cunha resigned as Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies in July, but remained a Congressional representative.
Cunha’s allies are expected to ask for the eleven-month-old process, to be divided into two, with representatives voting whether or not to take away his legislative post but also in a separate vote, deciding if his political rights will be suspended for the next eight years. According to analysts by separating the issues, Cunha’s allies hope to safeguard Cunha’s rights to run in 2018 again for Congress.
For Cunha to be permanently ousted from Congress and have his political rights suspended, a simple majority of votes, at least 257 of the total 513 representatives need to vote in favor of the impeachment. The voting session is expected to start in the early evening and extend into the night on Monday.