Brazil's presidential impeachment process

Updated: 2016-04-19 06:30


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BRASILIA - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff suffered a crushing defeat on Sunday when the lower house of Congress voted to impeach her, almost guaranteeing the leftist leader will be forced from office in a Senate trial just months before the nation hosts the Olympics.

Here are the next steps in the presidential impeachment process under Brazil's Constitution:

1) The Senate must vote on whether to go ahead with putting Rousseff on trial on charges of breaking budget laws. The timing of this vote is unclear, but it is broadly expected to take place in early May. Senate Speaker Renan Calheiros, a Rousseff supporter, must provide a schedule for the process.

2) Initially, a committee must be created to study the legal admissibility of the impeachment request, but not the merits of the case against Rousseff. It will then make a non-binding recommendation to the Senate.

If the Senate votes by a simple majority to accept the case, Rousseff will formally have been impeached and immediately be suspended from office. Vice President Michel Temer would become acting president pending the outcome of Rousseff's trial.

Prior to the lower house's vote on Sunday, senior senators had said Rousseff would lack the support needed in the Senate to prevent her impeachment.

The Senate has 180 days to conduct its trial, which will be chaired by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski. Analysts say impeachment, if it goes ahead, will be a quick process given the severity of Brazil's political crisis and could be decided by the end of May.

3) Rousseff will be stripped of her political rights and barred from running for elected office for eight years if two-thirds of the 81-member Senate, or 54 senators, vote against her during the impeachment proceedings.

Temer would then be confirmed as president for the rest of Rousseff's term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2018.

It would be the first time a Brazilian president has been impeached since Fernando Collor de Mello was stripped of office in 1992 on corruption charges. He is currently a senator.