By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After almost twenty hours of speeches, Brazil’s Senate voted early Thursday morning to open an impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff. With a vote of 55 for and 22 against, senators decided to suspend Rousseff from her post for up to 180 days while they conduct an impeachment trial.
With the Senate decision, Vice-President Michel Temer will assume the Presidency. Rousseff exonerated most of her cabinet members so that Temer would not have to fire them. One of the only officials to remain is Central Bank President, Alexandre Tombini.
Minutes after the end of the voting session, Rousseff wrote on one of her social media accounts. “Unable to point out the crime committed, the Senate decided to suspend President Dilma (Roussef) and proceed with the impeachment.”
“Attorney General José Eduardo Cardozo, stressed that a historical injustice is being committed, where procedures such as the right to defense, are used to provide legitimacy to a process which is ripping up the Constitution” the post said. Rousseff is expected to release a taped statement later on today to the Brazilian people.
The government’s Senate leader, Humberto Costa told reporters that the PT (Workers’ Party) will continue to fight against the impeachment of President Rousseff ‘in Congress, in court and on the streets’.
Pro and anti impeachment supporters gathered in public places in several cities throughout Brazil to watch the proceedings. Several protesters from both sides of the issue were arrested in Brasilia, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte.
In São Paulo, dozens of pro-impeachment supporters spent the night camped out on Avenida Paulista. As the news of Rousseff’s suspension spread, fireworks exploded above the heads of early morning commuters trying to get to work.
In Rio de Janeiro, a pro-impeachment group was forced out of Cinelandia, in the center of the city on Wednesday night, by a bigger group supporting President Rousseff. Police officers had to intervene to avoid a clash.