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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro’s Regional Electoral Court (TRE-RJ) on Wednesday, voted 3 to 2 for state governor, Luiz Fernando de Souza Pezão, and his running mate, Francisco Dornelles, to step down due to abuse of economic and political power.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro,Rio de Janeiro Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão
Rio de Janeiro Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão, photo by Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil.

If the court’s decision stands, the two are ineligible for public office during eight years, but Pezão says he will appeal.

“We’re still going to fight a lot. This is the work of the opposition, they have filed more than twenty actions, I have already won more than fifteen and there are still five more to be voted on, I am very calm about this process. I’ve already had my bills approved, and we’re going to be able to prove it,” said Pezão during radio interview on Thursday morning.

According to the court, the decision will only be implemented after the two officials have ended all appeals. If Pezão and Dornelles have their impeachment confirmed, state rules say that direct elections must be held to choose new executive representatives.

Court documents state that the abuse of economic and political power was constituted once the Rio de Janeiro state government granted financial benefits to companies as a counterpart to subsequent donations to the campaign of then-candidate Pezão and his deputy.

“It has been proven that millions of reais in administrative contracts were signed in exchange for campaign donations,” stated Judge Marco Couto, while rendering his vote.

Pezão was former Sergio Cabral’s vice governor during the governor’s two mandate period. Cabral is now in jail accused of receiving millions in bribes from construction companies for public works contracts, including those related to the 2014 World Cup.

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